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Seine

Ellsworth Kelly, American, 1923 - 2015

Geography:
Made in Paris, France, Europe

Date:
1951

Medium:
Oil on wood

Dimensions:
16 1/2 × 45 1/4 inches (41.9 × 114.9 cm)

Copyright:
© Ellsworth Kelly

Curatorial Department:
Contemporary Art

* Gallery 175, Modern and Contemporary Art, first floor

Accession Number:
2008-228-1

Credit Line:
Purchased with funds contributed in memory of Anne d'Harnoncourt and other Museum Funds, 2008

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Label:
Kelly’s encounter with Jean (Hans) Arp’s collages “arranged according to laws of chance” in February 1950 will have a profound impact on the work of the young artist. At that time, chance begins to play an increasingly larger role in Kelly’s art, and Seine is an early and accomplished example. In creating the painting—a representation of light flickering on the wavering surface of the Seine River translated into a geometric pattern—the artist incorporated chance into the process, pulling numbers from a box and darkening the corresponding blocks of a modular grid.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art Handbook (2014 Edition)

    In 1948, following his military service in World War II, twenty-five-year-old Ellsworth Kelly moved to Paris, where he lived for six years before moving to New York in 1954. Kelly made significant changes in his artistic production during this formative period, when he met a number of artists and progressively came into the singular and groundbreaking form of intensely felt abstraction for which he is widely known and celebrated. While in Paris, he abandoned figuration and easel painting, made his first shaped-wood cutout canvases, and embraced white monochrome and then primary colors. It was there that in February 1950 Kelly encountered Jean (Hans) Arp’s collages, arranged according to chance, which had a profound impact on the work of the young artist. Chance began to play an increasingly larger role in Kelly’s art, with Seine an early and accomplished example. In creating the painting—a representation of light flickering on the wavering surface of the Seine, translated into a geometric pattern—the artist incorporated chance into the process, pulling numbers from a box and darkening the corresponding blocks of a modular grid. Carlos Basualdo, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2014, p. 346.


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