This past summer, while in New York, I saw two amazing and very diverse drawing exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The shows were “Ellsworth Kelly Plant Drawings, 1948-2010” and  “Durer and Beyond, Central European Drawings, 1400-1700”.  Both exhibitions highlighted an abundance of drawings created using line.

                                                Sunflower, 1957 watercolor

Ellsworth Kelly is an American artist born in 1923 and best known for his minimalist works.  Kelly embraced the Color Field School in the 1960s and became known for his vibrant, clean minimalist paintings and sculptures. Regarding his interest in simple, minimal shapes and contours Kelly stated “ I’m not interested in the texture of a rock, but it’s shadow.”

Ellsworth Kelly's "Plant Drawings" exhibition

                                                       Hyacinth, 1949, ink

The exhibition at the Met focused on Kelly’s plant drawings, created over a sixty year period. These simple elegant drawings, made with graphite or ink on paper or with watercolor, are stunning for their simple use of line and shape.  Kelly is a master of composition, integrating negative and positive shape and keen observation skills.  Indeed, his drawings read as portraits of an individual plant.

Ellsworth Kelly's "Plant Drawings" exhibition

                                        Study for “Plant I”, 1949, ink and pencil

While most of the pieces are 18 x 20 inches, there are some monumental drawings that utilize a strong vertical composition.  The overlapping of shapes and form create a sense of motion.

Ellsworth Kelly's "Plant Drawings" exhibition

                                           Four Sunflowers, 1957, pencil

I highly recommend the exhibition catalog  “Ellsworth Kelly Plant Drawings” by Michael Semff and Marla Prather.  It is a beautiful publication and includes a comprehensive interview with Kelly conducted by Marla Prather in 2011.
I will be posting about the “Durer and Beyond” exhibition in the near future.