Ellsworth Kelly: Wood Sculpture

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About This Item

Text by Brenda Richardson

Ellsworth Kelly describes the 30 wood sculptures he created over the span of four decades between 1958 and 1996 as his “totems.” This body of work, although only a small proportion of the artist's lifetime sculpture and far less known than his work in metal, has a talismanic intimacy for Kelly that distinguishes it from the rest of his hard-edged oeuvre. Ellsworth Kelly: Wood Sculpture presents a retrospective of these wood sculptures for the first time, offering an investigation into the development of this intensely personal expression of Kelly's commitment to abstract art--and to nature. Many of these wood sculptures, now in private collections, are rarely seen and hardly known by the public. Accompanying a major exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 2011, this book speaks to the artist's lifetime of acute visual observation and how deeply “of nature” his work has always been.

"I call them my totems." With these unassuming words, Ellsworth Kelly defines as talismanic the thirty wood sculptures he created over the span of four decades, between 1958 and 1996. In so identifying this relatively small body of work (less than twelve percent of his sculpture oeuvre) Kelly implies that wood as a material has foundational significance to him. Indeed, he has confirmed that he feels there is a nearly tangible intimacy that imbues his wood sculptures, an intimacy that almost by definition cannot characterize his work in metal. In part this is simply a matter of physical properties: bronze and steel can endure outdoor exposure, finely sanded wood cannot. Kelly's wood sculptures are conceived for indoor display and a defined spatial enclosure invites visual and physical intimacy. There's an ineffable quality inherent to wood that appeals to Kelly. Whereas iron, steel, and aluminum are 'hard and cold,' he explains, wood is 'softer.' Wood is 'of nature' and retains its material integrity when shaped into sculptural form. Metals, on the other hand, are manufactured products of various ores extracted from nature. - Brenda Richardson, excerpted from Ellsworth Kelly's Totems in Ellsworth Kelly: Wood Scultpure.

9" x 11".
80 pages / illustrated throughout.
Ellsworth Kelly:  Wood Sculpture<br>Softcover
Ellsworth Kelly: Wood Sculpture

Regular price: $29.95
Sale price: $4.99
Member Price: $3.99