Colorforms: Ellsworth Kelly and the Colored Paper Images

Charles Ritchie, associate curator of modern prints and drawings, National Gallery of Art. While Ellsworth Kelly is best known for crafting pristine, monochrome shapes, he has periodically employed chance as a strategy in composing works. The series of 23 paper-pulp works featured in the exhibition Ellsworth Kelly: Colored Paper Images, on view at the National Gallery of Art from December 16, 2012, through December 1, 2013, is a dramatic example of this approach. Wet colored paper pulps were pressed into freshly made sheets of paper, resulting in color bleeds that eroded the precision of his designs. In this lecture recorded on February 10, 2013, Charles Ritchie investigates factors contributing to the success of this project—from Kelly’s improvisation on earlier motifs to print publisher Ken Tyler’s study of pigmentation in order to create strongly colored, lightfast paper pulps. Ritchie also discusses the expertise of veteran papermakers John and Kathleen Koller, who developed the paper for this project.

Released: February 26, 2013