Attention's span.When Ellsworth Kelly Ellsworth Kelly (b. Newburgh, New York, May 31, 1923) is an American painter and sculptor associated with Hard-edge painting, Color field painting and the minimalist school. returned to Paris in 1948, four years after having visited it as a member of the 603rd Engineers Camouflage Battalion of the United States Army United States Army
Major branch of the U.S. military forces, charged with preserving peace and security and defending the nation. The first regular U.S. fighting force, the Continental Army, was organized by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775, to supplement local , it was still the morning after survival. The occupation was over; the Nazis had been defeated. The relief and joy that the capital of European culture really had endured helped make Paris an exhilarating place, particularly for Americans, who were not under the same pressure as the French to come to terms with the devastating dev·as·tate
tr.v. dev·as·tat·ed, dev·as·tat·ing, dev·as·tates
1. To lay waste; destroy.
2. To overwhelm; confound; stun: was devastated by the rude remark. philosophical and political implications of the war. Aspects of the city that had been overlooked or taken for granted Adj. 1. taken for granted - evident without proof or argument; "an axiomatic truth"; "we hold these truths to be self-evident"
obvious - easily perceived by the senses or grasped by the mind; "obvious errors" during the occupation were suddenly bathed in a new light. For an artist with Kelly's independent mind and eye, and his sophisticated awareness of the psychological codes of architectural conventions, it is not surprising that the shape of a museum window, or the relationship of building walls to chimneys, or the arrangement of square and rectangular flagstones Flagstones is a late Neolithic causewayed enclosure in the English county of Dorset. It was discovered beneath the site of the demolished Flagstones House in advance of the construction of the Dorchester by-pass road. in a hospital garden, or the pattern of shadows on a staircase could be a source of shock and celebration. Kelly was more interested in the feel and look of Paris after the war than he was in its artistic debates, because it was through an attentiveness to the city that a radical sense of newness and hope was revealed. So many of the city's facades, courtyards, and streets could seem inhabited by decades, if not centuries, of voices and footsteps, waiting to be rediscovered. Kelly has never lost the sense of that awakening moment, when the heart of European culture seemed vulnerable and open, and discovery and liberation - not possession or occupation - were necessary acts; when so much of what he encountered seemed to have been touched by salvation simply because it existed.
Doing justice to that moment of awareness in such a way that the value of attentiveness is irrefutably established, without exploiting any object of that attentiveness, is a formidable achievement. Kelly's success is beautifully evoked by Robert Storr's statement: "To see as Kelly sees is to perfect the art of noticing." Seeing is generally understood as an analytical act. It suggests applying mental pressure to something, scrutinizing it, imposing one's desire and personality on it. It implies a will to control. To notice, on the other hand, is to be aware but to let be. To perfect the art of noticing is to see without exercising power over what is seen. It is to understand without feeling the need to tell everyone about it, to honor the integrity of what is observed without feeling the need to claim it. It means intersecting in·ter·sect
v. in·ter·sect·ed, in·ter·sect·ing, in·ter·sects
1. To cut across or through: The path intersects the park.
2. with and touching without owning. Kelly's shaped canvases abut To reach; to touch. To touch at the end; be contiguous; join at a border or boundary; terminate on; end at; border on; reach or touch with an end. The term abutting implies a closer proximity than the term adjacent. , lean on, and overlap others within the same painting, or within the same complex of paintings, in ways that do not deny but bring out and strengthen the other canvases' realities. From his Paris period on, Kelly has been a model of insight and tact in resolving ways of transferring (to use Yve-Alain Bois' insightful word) what he notices into painting without violating it. His abstractions are not so much true to what he has seen as they are true to the moment in which a flower, bunker, or highway marker makes its existence known. By being true to that revelatory moment when the object and his awareness of it awaken together, Kelly has made attentiveness indispensable to the creative imagination.
The depth and conviction of Kelly's esthetic es·thet·ic
Variant of aesthetic. enterprise are suggested by the way his shaped canvases practice what they preach. As they are noticed, they seem to notice in return. Because of the frontality of their broad, flat, uninflected surfaces, they face and therefore at all times acknowledge the human presence in front of them. But the relationships between or among canvases, and the vitality of the formal decisions within each canvas, prevent this reciprocation reciprocation /re·cip·ro·ca·tion/ (re-sip?ro-ka´shun)
1. the act of giving and receiving in exchange; the complementary interaction of two distinct entities.
2. an alternating back-and-forth movement. from becoming a locking of eyes or a confrontation. The first movement of the painting is always toward us, but the movement then shifts from side to side and up and around so that it acknowledges the fields within and around it. As a result, the force of the frontality is constantly held and broken, held and broken. The nature of the attentiveness of the painting is constantly changing from a stare to a glance, a glance to a stare, finally establishing a relationship with the viewer that is somewhere between the two - notice. The way Kelly's paintings and sculptures engage the viewer encourages rigorous attentiveness and, at the same time, a supple supple Physical exam adjective Referring to free movement of a body part and mobile eye. They invite attentiveness without domination, attentiveness that is never frozen.
As much as anything, the strength of Kelly's work has to do, for me, with its quality of respect. Respect not as a convention, not as a response to social pressure or political obligation, but as a way of relating, a way of imagining, a way of being. Kelly's respect is the expression of a temperament that is fundamentally religious even though it is not shaped by dogma, religiosity re·li·gi·os·i·ty
1. The quality of being religious.
2. Excessive or affected piety.
Noun 1. religiosity - exaggerated or affected piety and religious zeal
religiousism, pietism, religionism , or metaphysics metaphysics (mĕtəfĭz`ĭks), branch of philosophy concerned with the ultimate nature of existence. It perpetuates the Metaphysics of Aristotle, a collection of treatises placed after the Physics [Gr. . It has grown and defined itself within an esthetic framework that makes room for cunning, doubt, vulnerability, sexuality, stubbornness, perversity per·ver·si·ty
n. pl. per·ver·si·ties
1. The quality or state of being perverse.
2. An instance of being perverse.
Noun 1. - and a sometimes willful, sometimes witty contrariness - all of which have ample room to play in his work. The human and moral conviction of Kelly's respect is essential to the pleasure and joy his work offers. It is also intimately connected to an esthetic grace that is always, for me, a spiritual gift. Kelly's respect always leads me from his paintings and sculptures back into the world. It reinforces a feeling of amazement that something, anything, is, and a belief that existence itself is a continuing source of shock and celebration.
Michael Brenson is a writer living in New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of .