Ellsworth Kelly Gets the National Medal of Arts from President Obama

Constantin Brancusi, 'Torso of a Young Man,' 1923, ARS/Art Resource

Constantin Brancusi

Torso of a Young Man, 1923

Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

“Making art has first of all to do with honesty. My first lesson was to see objectively, to erase all ‘meaning’ of the thing seen. Then only, could the real meaning of it be understood and felt.” —Ellsworth Kelly

Congrats to Ellsworth Kelly, who just this morning received the National Medal of Arts from the president himself, along with fellow luminaries like Tony Kushner and Joan Didion. “A careful observer of form, color, and the natural world,” the White House describes, “Mr. Kelly has shaped more than half a century of abstraction and remains a vital influence in American art.” Although the ninety-year-old artist has pioneered an aesthetic vocabulary all his own, Kelly is quick to cite his vast range of influences, which includes Picasso, Klee, and Brancusi: “My line of influence has been the ‘structure’ of the things I liked.”

Portrait courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery.

Share article