Ellsworth Kelly, “Notes of 1969,” in Ellsworth Kelly (Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum, 1980), 92-93.
In Notes of 1969, Ellsworth Kelly outlined his transition from figurative and abstract painting to object oriented art. Kelly’s desire to focus solely on objects stemmed from his belief of art becoming too “men-oriented”. (92) Instead of forcing himself to compose a work of art that represented something, he found inspiration in anything and everything! He saw potential in everything from a a corner of a Braque painting to a splatter of tar on a road. He wanted to take objects that were seen as ordinary or futile and allow them to be a work of art. Kelly stated, “Everywhere I looked, everything I saw became something to be made, and it had to be exactly as it was, with nothing added”. (92) The subject was plainly the object and his work became about structure.
A well known example of Kelly’s object oriented art is his piece, “Red, Yellow, Blue”, 1951. The work consists is approximately 7 1/2 x 8” and is located at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. (© 2016 Ellsworth Kelly) In this piece, Kelly used three overlapping sheets of color coated paper and colored paper to create three “panels” that are each a single primary color. He said in his artist statement that “…the form of painting is the content”. It is no longer significant what the three colored panels represent but the importance is the fact that they are color, plain and simple. They represented less of an object and more of an idea that would continue. Kelly rid his work of a subject or any kind of personal experience and narrows it down to existence. His inspiration was found in the basic principals of art: shape, form and color. The viewer no longer had to seek for an in depth meaning but rather just observe what was before him. He said that his first lesson in making art was “…to see objectively, to erase all meaning of the thing seen. Then only could the real meaning of it be understood and felt.” (93)