Honoring Ellsworth Kelly

Kelly with Lindsay and Henry Ellenbogen

Ellsworth Kelly, Lindsay Ellenbogen, and Henry Ellenbogen at The Phillips Collection in 2013. Photo: Ben Droz

The Phillips was so honored to have worked with Ellsworth in 2013 presenting an exhibition of panel paintings from 2004 through 2009. It was wonderful to have had the opportunity to hear his ideas, have his guidance, to share time with him and Jack in DC and in Spencertown. I was re-reading curator Vesela Sretenović’s interview with him for the exhibition catalogue. One phrase captures my attention especially:

Vesela Sretenović:  In my first visit to your studio you said “ Freedom and democracy—that is what my work is about.” Can you elaborate on this passionate statement?
Ellsworth Kelly: I have always felt I wanted to create work that celebrates freedom and one’s own space.

He and his work embody a sheer joy in life.

EK installation 2_Lee Stalsworth

Installation view of Ellsworth Kelly’s 2013 exhibition at The Phillips Collection. Photo: Lee Stalsworth

EK installation 1_Lee Stalsworth

Installation view of Ellsworth Kelly’s 2013 exhibition at The Phillips Collection. Photo: Lee Stalsworth

Untitled.EK 927_Lee Stalsworth

Ellsworth Kelly, Untitled (EK 927), 2005. Bronze overall: 117 in x 63 3/16 in x 1 in. Commissioned in honor of Alice and Pamela Creighton, beloved daughters of Margaret Stuart Hunter, 2006. Photo: Lee Stalsworth

Director’s Desk: Dispatches From Japan

Teshima Museum

Here, a long-looking interlude in Teshima Art Museum collaboration between architect Ryue Nishizawa and artist Rei Naito.

Hard to believe it’s been over a month since we took a Phillips trip to Japan as part of our travel program. Over the course of a week and a half, we traveled to Tokyo, Kyoto, Kurashiki, Naoshima, and Takamatsu. Here are a few snapshots of the people, places, and studios we visited.

Benesse Museum Naoshima

Wonderful view from the Benesse House Museum designed by Tadao Ando on the island of Naoshima.

Dorothy and Gormley on Naoshima

In the elegant Benesse House Hotel. Makes me think back to the great Antony Gormley installation here at the Phillips in 2012.

2015TPCinJapan_TUA Studio Visit with artist James Jack1

Enjoying a studio visit with artist and professor James Jack at the Tokyo University of the Arts (Geidai). The pigments of each of these squares is composed with one dirt sample collected from various sites at which the artist has lived.

Kiyomizu Temple Kyoto_side by side

Our trip also embraced the traditional arts if Japan. We visited the Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto where the serene garden made me think of the Impressionists’ deep love of all things Japonisme.

Meiji Shrine Tokyo

We learned a lot from the Shinto priest who accompanied us on our visit to the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo.

2015TPCinJapan_DK and Mr.Ohara outside Ohara  Museum in Kurashiki

Meeting Mr.Ohara outside the Ohara Museum of Art in Kurashiki.


I adored this gorgeous work by Hiroshi Sugimoto that the artist showed our group. It is an interpretation of a historically important screen, a national treasure.

Director’s Desk: Dispatch From Seoul

Olafur Eliasson Seoul

Olafur Eliasson installation at Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul. Magnificent transformation of a staircase with the magic of light and mirrors causing poetic and mind bending reflections. Meanwhile, across town, our brilliant Phillips Collection exhibition Ingres to Kandinsky at the Seoul Arts Center.