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Basel museum unveils new sculpture by Ellsworth Kelly

The artist's "White Curves 2001" now has a permanent home in the museum park

(swissinfo.ch)

The Fondation Beyeler near Basel has unveiled an outdoor sculpture by the American Ellsworth Kelly which will be a permanent feature at the museum.

The six-metre high sculpture, "White Curves", is made of white aluminium and resembles a huge sail.

The sculpture was commissioned by the Beyeler Fondation for its latest temporary exhibition, and like other works inside the museum, it closely interacts with its surroundings in the village of Riehen.

Born in 1923, Kelly is one of America's most important artists since 1945.

His stark and, at the same time, serene art relies on an eye-catching pictorial language reduced to its simplest fundamentals.

He first became known when he moved beyond the rectangular canvases traditionally used by painters and created works, intended for the wall and the floor, that reach out into the space around them.

"He's an artist who works with wall and space," curator Gottfried Boehm told swissinfo.

"And these pure rooms designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano are very appropriate for his works of art."

Lucid style

Boehm went on to speak of the "lucidity and clearness" of the artist's style.

"He doesn't think in terms of the sense behind a work, but rather he wants to show it on its surface.

"The surface is the mystery. Without doubt he is one of the most important living artists."

For his part, Kelly put his credo simply when he addressed a press conference before the opening.

"I constantly play with what I see and the way in which shapes and colours are combined," he said.

The exhibition begins with designs, collages and postcards for sculpture projects, which provide an insight into the way Kelly worked from 1956 to 1982.

These preliminary studies for sculptures are followed by examples of his most famous paintings with biomorphic forms from the 50s and 60s.

Panoramic display

After that comes a panoramic display of large-format paintings from the early 80s to the present day.

Eight of Kelly's luminously colourful "Curves" can be seen for the first time as a single ensemble.

The exhibition room, which is filled with natural light and separated by only a glass façade from the countryside, seems the perfect location for Kelly's "Curves" to interact with their surroundings.

The exhibition, which closes with a selection of wall sculptures and a floor sculpture, is at the Fondation Beyeler until January 19.

A parallel exhibition of Kelly's graphic works opens on October 4 at the fine arts museum in Lausanne.

swissinfo, Richard Dawson

kelly key facts

The six-metre high sculpture, "White Curves", by Ellsworth Kelly has been comissioned by the Fondation Beyeler.
Born in 1923, Kelly is one of America's most important sculptors since 1945.
The exhibition is at the Fondation Beyeler until January 19.
A parallel exhibition of Kelly's graphic works opens on October 4 at the fine arts museum in Lausanne.

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