[ Kelly, Ellsworth ] Ashbery, John. Plant Drawings. New York: Matthew Marks Gallery. 1992.
Drawing plants has always led me into my paintings and sculptures.
Ellsworth Kelly’s six decades of plant drawings were recently the subject of a comprehensive exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York which encompassed work from Kelly’s early days in Paris in 1948 through more recent work from his upstate New York studio. This book, from a smaller exhibition at the Matthew Marks Gallery held October 14 through November 28, 1992, preceded the Met show by twenty years.
These drawings capture only the graceful essence of an otherwise remarkably complex natural world, and in their simplicity they reveal the representational views of an ardently abstract artist. To Kelly, however, they are “a kind of bridge to a way of seeing that was the basis of the very first abstract paintings,” and thus are an insightful perspective on his more famous work.
Each opening of this beautifully designed book presents one drawing on the recto and an unobtrusive identification of the depicted plant on the preceding verso (with an occasional variation for a series of related drawings). The work includes an essay by poet and former ARTNews editor John Ashbery. This is copy 15 of 100 (of a planned but unrealized 150) hardbound copies signed by Kelly and Ashbery.
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