Nature’s Lesson on Understanding Ellsworth Kelly | NY Times

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(Photo: Briana E. Heard)

Ellsworth Kelly, renowned maker of abstract, odd-shaped monochromatic paintings, has said that he developed his eye for color and form as a bird watcher when he was a child in rural New Jersey. You can see evidence of this history: in the indigo bunting blue of “Blue Panel I” from 1977; in the pointed angles, like crests on northern cardinals, of “Red-Orange Panel” from 1980; and in the snowy span, like egret wings, of “Memorial” from 1993. Or at least you can start to see it once you’ve come to grips with other, more obvious features of Mr. Kelly’s art: its radical simplicity, its merger of painting and sculpture, its romance with architecture, its contribution to the history of modernism. But all of this absorbing takes time, the way bird watching does.

Like Mr. Kelly, I was out there with binoculars as a kid, scoping out fields and woods, though mostly standing or sitting stock-still, looking, waiting, for a dash of color, the flash of a silhouette on which I’d focused as if there were nothing else in the world. That was in New England, but I’ve done the same in New York City. After living in parts of town more gray than green, in the late 1980s I moved to the top of Manhattan, to a street that faced Inwood Hill Park. There, I was surprised to learn, my neighbors included a population of pheasants, resplendent creatures I hadn’t encountered since childhood. Their presence pulled me into the park to see what else was there, though I was out of practice with looking. I tromped around, like a cellphoner in a museum, seeing little until I remembered: Stop; let the birds find you.

Read more: Nature’s Lesson on Understanding Ellsworth Kelly | NY Times

See below for our pictures of the majestic Inwood Hill Park courtesy of Briana E. Heard.

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