Ellsworth Kelly's Basic Training

Ellsworth Kelly, Doorway, 1947, oil on canvas, 36 1/8 x 22 1/8 inches (photo by
Ellsworth Kelly, Doorway, 1947, oil on canvas, 36 1/8 x 22 1/8 inches (photo by Jerry L. Thompson, courtesy Ellsworth Kelly Archives)

Tim Keane writes about the new volume of the Ellsworth Kelly Catalogue Raisonné that focuses on Kelly's early work from 1940–1953.

Keane writes: "Before the reader’s eyes, Kelly is transforming himself from a middle-of-the road figurative painter into an innovative, lyrical abstractionist gradually branching out into mixed media works and relief sculptures... the catalogue offers reproductions of rarely seen student works — extensive drawings and studies along with somber portraits and moody landscapes enlivened with European avant-garde conceits; Paul Gauguin and Max Beckmann are named as foundational influences. [Yves-Alain] Bois’s analyses of Kelly’s art school realism emphasizes how these naively naturalistic works portend the stripped-down semi-abstractions that were soon to come. After taking in the book’s entirety, the lucky reader will be tempted, as I was, to go back to these student works and seek covert abstract effects underpinning the representational elements."