For half a century, Ellsworth Kelly has been making prints that are integral to his art. More than three hundred editions of lithographs, screenprints, and etchings, made primarily in collaborations with Gemini G.E.L. in Los Angeles, celebrate, as do Kelly’s paintings and sculptures, the sensuous primacy of vibrant color merged with emphatic abstract shape. The prints also include the plant lithographs that run parallel to Kelly’s botanical drawings in pencil and ink. In nearly immaterial veils of colored inks on paper in the first instance, and in the spontaneous crayoned line in the second, the contemplative lyricism of Kelly’s prints places them among the most beautiful ever made.
As the author of Ellsworth Kelly Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné, and on behalf of Jordan D. Schnitzer, an important collector of the artist’s prints, I am pleased to introduce this anthology of personal tributes. On the occasion of the catalogue raisonné’s publication and the exhibition Ellsworth Kelly: Prints and Paintings at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2012, this companion volume to the catalogue raisonné gathers the reflections of men and women who have been close to Kelly and his art over the years. In many cases, the proximity has been to the artist’s prints. Curators, art historians, publishers, printers, dealers, and collectors—all known to and in many instances friends of the artist—were invited to submit personal essays on Kelly’s prints, his art.
The twenty essays that make up this book, in one case a photo essay, are memorable testaments to Kelly’s art and to the bonds between friends and artist. Authors write engagingly of curating and installing exhibitions, collaborating with the artist in the workshop, cataloguing his prints at an auction house, publishing them, representing and selling them, collecting and lending the prints to institutions, and even of acquiring their first print by Kelly.