<iframe src="//www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-PTT6ZS" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden"></iframe> Whitney Museum of American Art: Ellsworth Kelly: Atlantic
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Artist

Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015)

Title

Atlantic

Date

1956

Medium

Oil on canvas, two parts

Dimensions

Overall: 80 1/8 × 115 5/16 in. (203.5 × 292.9 cm)

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase

Accession number

57.9a-b

Object Label

Ellsworth Kelly’s massively scaled geometric abstractions are often grounded in something actually seen. Atlantic derives its abstracted curves from shadows cast across the pages of a book that Ellsworth Kelly was reading while riding a bus. The facing pages of the book and its central fold are mirrored in the painting’s diptych structure, while the shadows themselves are reversed in his black-and-white scheme (so that the shadow actually appears as white, on a black ground). Kelly first translated the shadow, curved by the bowing of the book, into a group of drawings in 1954, then into a smaller painting, Study for Atlantic (1956), and finally into the grand scale of Atlantic—more than 9 feet wide. Atlantic is also the largest of Kelly’s black-and-white canvases of the late 1950s, made just before he reintroduced a wide spectrum of colors into his work.

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