Ellsworth Kelly was hailed as a pioneer of abstraction at the dedication ceremony last week for the new stamps honoring him.
Kelly (1923-2015) rendered precise shapes in bold, flat colors and developed a distinctive style of painting that reduced real elements to their most essential forms. During his 70-year career, he also created sculptures and other works, and he was one of the first artists to integrate art with modern architecture.
“His works now belong to permanent collections of major museums — and he remains one of the most celebrated and influential artists of the 20th century,” said USPS Marketing Vice President Steve Monteith, who led the ceremony.
Monteith recalled how Kelly drew inspiration from the world around him.
“He learned that by paying close attention to the shape of a leaf, the contour of a window or the play of light in an alley, he could let his art materialize,” Monteith said.
The dedication ceremony was held May 31 at Kelly’s studio in Spencertown, NY, where he worked following stints in Paris and New York City.
May 31 would have been Kelly’s 96th birthday, as well as the seventh anniversary of his marriage to Jack Shear, director of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation.
“The reason we made this day our wedding day was because he got flowers all the time on his birthday, and I wanted in on the flowers,” Shear said to laughter.
Monteith’s remarks included a quote from an interview Kelly gave.
“I’m not searching for something. I just find it,” Kelly said. “The idea has to come to me … something that has the magic of life.”