Ellsworth Kelly: Kinds Of Black and Blue

Glenn Ligon writes: ‘Standing in front of Ellsworth Kelly’s “Blue Black” (pictured), a twenty-eight-foot-tall painted aluminum wall sculpture commissioned for the main exhibition space of the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, I heard Louis Armstrong’s gravel-strewn voice singing, “What did I do to be so black and blue?” Given the title of the sculpture, that the Armstrong song would pop into my head was not so unexpected, yet I had to ask what the lyrics of a melancholy show tune about racial inequality had to do with Kelly’s rigorous and elegant paintings, sculptures, drawings, and collages, part of an artistic practice that sought to “erase all ‘meaning’ from the thing seen” so that “the real meaning of it [could] be understood and felt.” Indeed, to view a work by this artist is to be made intensely aware of color, shape, and form, and Blue Black, with its strong palette and meticulous placement in architect Tadao Ando’s austere yet sensual building, is a perfect example of Kelly’s artistic mastery.’

Leave a Comment