Barnes Foundation Announces Ellsworth Kelly: Sculpture on the Wall, on view May 4–September 2, 2013

Barnes Foundation Announces Ellsworth Kelly: Sculpture on the Wall, on view May 4–September 2, 2013


Major loan from the Museum of Modern Art will return Kelly's landmark Sculpture for a Large Wall to Philadelphia

Exhibition Press Preview on Tuesday, April 30, from 10 am to 12 pm

November 29, 2012, Philadelphia, PA—Derek Gillman, executive director and president of the Barnes Foundation, today announced that a presentation of wall sculptures by Ellsworth Kelly will be shown at the Barnes Foundation. Included in the exhibition will be Sculpture for a Large Wall (19561957), a landmark work on loan from The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Coinciding with the first anniversary of the opening of the Barnes Foundation on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, Ellsworth Kelly: Sculpture on the Wall, a gathering of major works, will be on view in the Aileen and Brian Roberts Gallery May 4 through September 2, 2013. 

“Ellsworth Kelly’s career spans the last years of Albert C. Barnes’s collecting practice to the present day, and is brilliantly concentrated on the visual elements of line, form, and color that were key to Barnes’s aesthetic theories,” Derek Gillman stated. “We are thrilled to inaugurate our program of contemporary exhibitions with a presentation of works by Ellsworth Kelly, an acknowledged master of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The exhibition program will complement and illuminate the celebrated and encyclopedic Barnes collection and honor the founder’s commitment to contemporary art.”

Ellsworth Kelly has long noted his interest in European modernists such as Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso—painters whose works he studied during his years in Paris and New York, and who are also at the core of the Barnes Foundation’s holdings. The powerful wall sculptures in the Barnes Foundation exhibition will explore the intersections of art and architecture, form and color, light and shadow, and figure and ground, long celebrated in Kelly’s work.

Explaining his emerging style to composer John Cage in 1950, Kelly wrote, “[My] collages are only ideas for things much larger—things to cover walls…. I am not interested in painting as it has been accepted for so long—to hang on the walls of houses as pictures… They should be the wall—even better—on the outside wall—of large buildings.” The varied works on view—multicolored, monochromatic, straight-edged, curvilinear—will explore the relationship of work to wall.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is Sculpture for a Large Wall (19561957), a masterful realization of Kelly’s aspirations. Composed of 104 anodized aluminum panels, the monumental Sculpture for a Large Wall will command the longest wall of the special exhibition gallery, with its rhythmic play of color, form, and light, as well as positive and negative space.

Commissioned for the Philadelphia Transportation Building, the work was removed in 1998 when the building underwent renovation and is now held in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art in New York. Sculpture for a Large Wall will return to Philadelphia for the first time on the occasion of this exhibition. At the Barnes, the work will be installed at eye-level as Kelly intended.

Additional works in the exhibition will be announced at a later date. A fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by Judith F. Dolkart, deputy director of art and archival collections and Gund Family Chief Curator of the Barnes Foundation, will accompany the exhibition.

A monumental work by Kelly, the 40-foot-high Barnes Totem (2012)was commissioned through the generosity of the Neubauer Family Foundation and is permanently installed on the park-like grounds of the Barnes in Philadelphia, on a site selected by the artist and the building’s architects, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien.

About Ellsworth Kelly
Born in 1923, Ellsworth Kelly began to develop his distinctive approach to abstraction in the late 1940s in Paris, where he studied on the G.I. Bill. In 1954, he returned to the U.S. and continued creating paintings whose abstract forms, contours, and contrasts of line or tone were based on observations of the built environment and the natural world. By the late 1950s, Kelly was also making sculptures, using cut-out forms that he mounted on walls or set outdoors. Working against conventional expectations, he typically made these sculptures so they read as flat, whereas the paintings (often done on shaped supports) seem three-dimensional. In 1970, Kelly left New York City and moved upstate, where he found inspiration in his new rural environment, and where his artistic practice began to include the creation of large-scale outdoor sculptures in metal. Over the years, his sculptures have tended to take either the form of reliefs or of free-standing totems (as at the Barnes Foundation). He has made public commissions for sites and institutions in cities such as New York, Paris, Barcelona, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, Houston, and Dallas.

About the Barnes Foundation
The Barnes Foundation was established by Albert C. Barnes in 1922 to "promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture." The Barnes holds one of the finest collections of post-impressionist and early modern paintings, with extensive holdings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Amedeo Modigliani, Chaim Soutine and Giorgio de Chirico, as well as American masters Charles Demuth, William Glackens, Horace Pippin, and Maurice Prendergast, and old master paintings, important examples of African sculpture and Native American ceramics, jewelry and textiles, American paintings and decorative arts, and antiquities from the Mediterranean region and Asia.

The Barnes Foundation's Art and Aesthetics programs engage a diverse array of audiences. These programs, occurring on-site, online, and in Philadelphia communities, advance the mission through progressive, experimental, and interdisciplinary teaching and learning.

In May 2012, the Barnes Foundation opened a new facility on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects. The Philadelphia campus is home to the Foundation’s world-famous art collection and will be the site of a new series of exhibitions in its Aileen and Brian Roberts Gallery.

Currently on view through March 18, 2013 is Ensemble: Albert C. Barnes and the Experiment in Education, an exhibition drawing on the Foundation’s rich archives and non-Gallery collections to chart Dr. Barnes’s friendships, collaborations, and discourse with artists, philosophers, educators, collectors and dealers.

The Barnes Arboretum, located at the Merion campus, contains more than 2,000 species/varieties of trees and woody plants, many of them rare. Founded in the 1880s by Joseph Lapsley Wilson and subsequently expanded under the direction of Laura L. Barnes, the collection includes a fern-leaf beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Laciniata'), a dove tree (Davidia involucrata), a monkey-puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana), and a redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). Other important plant collections include lilacs, peonies, Stewartias, and magnolias. Inaugurated in 1940 by Mrs. Barnes, the Horticulture School at the Barnes Foundation in Merion offers a comprehensive, three-year certificate course of study in the botanical sciences, horticultural practices, garden aesthetics, and design through a well-grounded, scientific learning experience.  The Barnes Foundation Archives are also located at the Merion campus.



The Barnes Foundation
Jan Rothschild, Senior Vice President for Communications
Andrew Stewart, Director of Public Relations

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