Red Yellow Blue White and Black II

A work made of oil on canvas; 7 joined panels.
© Ellsworth Kelly

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  • A work made of oil on canvas; 7 joined panels.

Date:

1953

Artist:

Ellsworth Kelly
American, 1923-2015

About this artwork

Emphasizing the basics of line, shape, and color, Ellsworth Kelly’s exquisitely spare paintings and sculpture influenced the development of Minimalist art and affected the course of color-field painting, hard-edge painting, and postpainterly abstraction. Among the Art Institute’s rich holdings of Kelly’s works, Red Yellow Blue White and Black stands apart: with startling clarity, this painting marks the moment at midcentury when Kelly’s pure abstraction emerged in its mature form. After serving in World War II, the artist returned to Europe in 1948, living and working in France for the following six years. While abroad, Kelly expanded his practice of direct observation of nature and architectural forms into an experimental, rigorous study of abstraction. He made Red Yellow Blue White and Black in 1953 while still in France, creating it just as he was beginning to uncover the nearly infinite possibilities of monochrome, color spectrum, chance ordering, and multipanel composition. In the painting, Kelly centered the black panel so that it both divides and joins the three panels on either side of it, while the white panels simultaneously separate colors and pair them off. The blue panels at either end close and unify the sequence. Kelly’s multipanel monochromes rely on the edges where sections meet, instead of handmade marks, to express their form. This seven-panel painting is the largest in a sequence of Paris-based works widely considered to be the artist’s finest and most influential early statements on canvas.

On View

Contemporary Art, Gallery 291

Artist

Ellsworth Kelly

Title

Red Yellow Blue White and Black II

Origin

United States

Date

1953

Medium

Oil on canvas; 7 joined panels

Dimensions

99.1 × 350.2 cm (39 × 138 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of the Anstiss and Ronald Krueck Collection

Reference Number

2001.157

Copyright

© Ellsworth Kelly

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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