Ellsworth Kelly Postcards: Wish You Were Here!

kelly_veneziano_washmt_freeman.jpg
Domenico Veneziano / Washington Monument, 1984, image: peter freeman/artsy

So I didn't spot this Ellsworth Kelly postcard collage at Peter Freeman's booth at Frieze Masters, and I love it. It makes me want to see more. And to wonder why we haven't?

Kelly's used collage and found shapes and forms to develop his paintings and sculptures since the very beginning. He's made postcard collages to explore scale and shape and site, too. They're little glimpses into the way he sees. He makes them for himself, and he sends them to friends.

This example, made using photo torn from the newspaper and a postcard from the National Gallery of Veneziano's St. John in the Desert has some postal markings on it, so I expect it's the latter.

statue_of_liberty_1957.jpg
Statue of Liberty, 1957

Can we have a show of these, please? Or at least a book? I guess the closest so far is that amazing Drawing Center show in 2002, Ellsworth Kelly Tablet: 1949-73, curated by Yve-Alain Bois, which had collaged up pages from the artist's sketchbooks.

upper_manh_1957.jpg
Upper Manhattan, 1957

But these postcard collages are not just, or not all, preparatory works; they're social, too. Their intimate scale, non-preciousness, and exchange function remind me of Felix Gonzalez-Torres's Polaroids and Gerhard Richter's overpainted photographs. The absolute least gesture and material required to convey the artist's observation.

tuileries_study_bl-w_1964.jpg
Study for a Blue and White Sculpture of Les Tuileries, 1964, like many of the smaller images, from a slideshow at nyss.org

They inevitably also function as postcards, seeming to mark a visit to a place, and the artist's reaction or memory there. In the Guggenheim's 1996 retrospective catalogue, Roberta Bernstein called them "souvenirs of experience." The light on the Seine, the bridge near the Taconic, the sliced coffee lid at Agnes Martin's place. Kelly talks of seeing things others don't, thus the unsuitability of an off-the-rack postcard.

st_maarten_triangle_1974.jpg
St. Maarten, 1974

In at least one case, the private, unique postcard became a published edition.

st_mart_horiz_nude-1974.jpg
St Martin Horizontal Nude, 1974

If I'd realized that it started with a postcard, I'd have been less baffled by the big lithographs that pop up occasionally at auction.

st_martin_lndscp_1979_2-a.jpg
Saint Martin Landscape, 1979, 16x22-in

Postcards are obviously useful for sculpture, space, and scale. They're ambitious and offhand at the same time, a powerful proposition that can be discounted, but not unseen.

riverfront_stadium_1980-2.jpg

This 1980 postcard collage of Riverfront Stadium reminds me of Ground Zero, the newspaper collage Kelly sent to Herbert Muschamp in 2003:

ellsworth_kelly_ground_zero_nyt.jpg

There's one other instance I can think of where Kelly's postcard collages and his monumental sculptural situation are linked, the imposition of sculptural form on photogenic tourist vista: his 1998 sculptural installation on the roof garden of the Metropolitan Museum.

I've found this over and over: 1998 is invisible online. There was a lag between the internet and digital photography, and archival digitization projects privilege the dusty. Ellsworth Kelly Metropolitan is a predictably beautiful search on flickr, but it doesn't yield any images from the pre-flickr era. Which is really too bad, because as I recall, they were picture perfect.

kelly_totem_met_roof.jpg

UPDATE:: Whaddyaknow, here's a picture of Totem on the roof of the Met, which I just randomly found in a 2010 NPR story about the closure of Carlson & Co.

Anyway, point is, we need a show. So please send all the Ellsworth Kelly postcard collages to me, and I will exhibit them.

Previously, suddenly related, souvenirs of virtual experience: Ellsworth Kelly on Google Art Project

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

post info

first published: October 20, 2013.

next older post:
The Next Pynchon Novel Will Be Written By A Bot

next newer post:
Forbidden Colors, By Felix Gonzalez-Torres

recent projects, &c.


pm_social_medium_recent_proj_160x124.jpg
Social Medium:
artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
ed. by Jennifer Liese
buy, $28

madf_twitter_avatar.jpg
Madoff Provenance Project in
'Tell Me What I Mean' at
To__Bridges__, The Bronx
11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
show | beginnings

chop_shop_at_springbreak
Chop Shop
at SPRING/BREAK Art Show
curated by Magda Sawon
1-7 March 2016

do_not_bid_or_buy_iris_sidebar.jpg
eBay Test Listings
Armory – ABMB 2015
about | proposte monocrome, rose

shanzhai_gursky_mb_thumb.jpg
It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
about | link

therealhennessy_tweet_sidebar.jpg
TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
about

sop_red_gregorg.jpg
Standard Operating Procedure
about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

weeksville_echo_sidebar.jpg
"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
about, brochure | installation shots


HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
panel &c.


drp_04_gregorg_sidebar.jpg
Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
background | making of
"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

czrpyr_blogads.jpg
Canal Zone Richard
Prince YES RASTA:
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99

archives