In my past experiences and memories, the difference between the “good” Ellsworth Kelly paintings, and the “great” ones… is him. His single-color shaped canvases are always interesting, but when the “right” one is placed on the “right” wall, the entire room is electrified –I mean literally the hairs on my arm stand up. It doesn’t work the same in group shows or in museums, but it works here brilliantly… because he curated it.
Unlike most paintings, minimalism allows your eye to travel off the canvas, activating and transforming an entire space into something inexplicably (and quietly) magical. Certainly minimalist art doesn’t need to be curated by the artist to do that, but Ellsworth proves he can do it better than anyone else. And what makes this exhibition truly incredible is that though every work seems custom made for the wall it’s on, PERFECTLY scaled and arranged like a visual poem as you drift through the space, none were created FOR this exhibition. The show is a sampling of works from the last 5 decades, and I can only imagine him thumbing through hundreds of works from those decades to find THE perfect pieces… and it’s amazing.
Sorry it doesn’t work on a computer screen – see it in person (and alone, if possible).
Ellsworth Kelly: Singular Forms 1966-2009, is on view at Mnuchin Gallery (45 E 78th St) through June 1, 2013.