The Drawing Center

Address:35 Wooster Street, New York, NY10013 

Tel: 212-219-2166

Ellsworth Kelly, Tablet 1948-1973

May 3-July 24, 2002


 188 works created by Ellsworth Kelly out of hundreds of smaller drawings will be shown for the first time in The Drawing Center’s exhibition Tablet 1948-1973.  Marking The drawing Center’s 25th Anniversary, the exhibition allows a look at the creative development of one of America’s preeminent contemporary artists during a prolific and pivotal period of his career.  On display will be colorful sketches, collages, and cutouts of Kelly’s preliminary concepts and ideas for what developed into large-scale paintings and sculptures.  The show was curated by Yve-Alain Bois, Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., Professor of Modern Art at Harvard University.

 Tablet captures the artist’s observations and random thoughts, as well as grand recurrent themes, during a 25-year period.  Resembling a large notepad, Tablet functions like an atlas of Kelly’s visual thinking.  It consists of minute descriptions and drawings made on scraps of paper, such as newspaper clippings, letters, envelopes, and gallery invitations that have been cut and marked by the artist.  In the early 1970s, the artist mounted these visual notes, amassed over the years, into a formal body of work.  Seen together for the first time at The Drawing Center, Tablet enables the viewer to trace a line back through time to Kelly’s earliest inspirations.

 Remnants of Kelly’s personal history appear frequently in this series.  In a tablet from the 1950s, a cutout shape reveals its origins as an envelope addressed to Agnes Martin at Coenties Slip, where Kelly also had a studio.  The “X” form cut form the envelope was shaped by chance during one of Kelly’s ongoing exercises in automatism.  This experiment lead to other sketches and doodles, which became the basis for the painting South Ferry (1956) and Red white (1962), and the painted aluminum sculpture Gate (1959).

 From The Drawing Center press release



Tablet #91
Ink and pencil
39.4 x 53.3cm

©The Drawing Center


Tablet #105
39.4 x 53.3cm
Couuretesy Mathew Marks Gallery, New York

©The Drawing Center


©The Drawing Center