Curved Red on Blue
1963
Ellsworth Kelly
American, born 1923

Oil on canvas
105 1/4 x 84 3/8 inches

The curve is a form that exists in nature but can also be manipulated to be abstract. I was fascinated by the different effects you could achieve with a simple curve. — Ellsworth Kelly

Throughout his fifty-year career, Ellsworth Kelly’s art reflects his fascination with form as it presents itself to him on a daily basis, whether it be the shape of a shadow, an architectural detail, the curve of a hill, or the edge of a leaf. During the early 1960s, Kelly was particularly intrigued by the character of curved forms, leading him to explore the transformational qualities of various curves, using both color and edge to divide the ground of the canvas. Of critical importance to Kelly was that the curved form not appear as a figure sitting on or against a background, but rather be an integral segment of the surface of the image as a whole. Curved Red on Blue consists of an enigmatic red curve dividing an otherwise blue canvas. The canvas barely contains the red form, which pushes against all four edges of the canvas. Although the form initially appears as a question mark without its dot, and it relates to the various plant stems the artist would draw around the same time, it is difficult to identify the exact source of the curve. Kelly has acknowledged Curved Red on Blue as a seminal work that opened up a career-long investigation of the curve and its transformational possibilities.