Style Profile: Sully Engelhart

Style Profile: Sully Engelhart

Photos: Ben Droz


The September Phillips After 5 involved a color block contest which featured outfits that were influenced by Ellsworth Kelly paintings. Sully Engelhart was our top choice because of her splashy sweater. She visited the museum from Miami and I had the chance to interview about her outfit.

Josh Navarro: How would you describe your style?

Sully Engelhart: My daily basis style is always something very, very, comfortable. I bought the sweater I’m using in the picture at Target! I love the high-low style!

JN: What are your favorite shops in Miami?

SE: I love J.Crew, BCBG, Zara and for a high-end investment, The Webster Miami.

JN: Please describe your outfit in this photo.

SE: In this photo I’m wearing a Lacoste polo, the sweater is from Target (believe it or not), my pants are Calvin Klein, and my purse and shoes are from Prada.

The Power of Design Through the Lens of Ellsworth Kelly


Ellsworth Kelly, Red Relief, 2009. Private collection. Photo: Jerry L. Thompson, courtesy the artist. © Ellsworth Kelly.

As an educator, I find lessons of modern-day simplicity to be a great starting point for fine arts students. The field of design revolves around how art interacts with the tasks and perceptions of everyday life. Design isn’t just aesthetically pleasing; it also serves an everyday purpose. I believe art should be people-focused and design should serve as a platform for which dialogue and discussion is facilitated. Perceptions of light, color, and space aid in constructing a design and in developing visual literacy. In addition to written/verbal literacy, I think visual literacy is an integral skill one should possess.

The work of Ellsworth Kelly, currently on view in the Panel Paintings 2004-2009  is interesting to consider in relation to the subject of design and human interaction. Kelly, whose works I see as brushing between minimalism and post-painterly abstraction, has a clear and calibrated eye for design. Having formerly been a graphic designer, and currently an art educator, I see elements of two-dimensional and three-dimensional design as imperative when understanding Kelly’s artistic process. Design in itself best communicates with the viewer when clarity is achieved, an element Kelly has mastered. Formations of line, symmetry, and composition aid in developing a clear message within his pieces–these messages, however simple in design, evoke a tapestry of complexity within their meaning and interpretation.

It is this eye for simplicity in design that I hope future learners adapt and refer to throughout their art making process. Artistic intelligence lies in being able to condense such rich information into its purest, simplest form–to capture it, and still be able to communicate it to the audience.

Who are some other artists you believe share Kelly’s approach to aesthetic simplicity?

Is visual literacy an important skill for all learners to possess, not solely art students?


Fatima Elgarch, K12 Education Intern

Putting the Process on the Wall: Ellsworth Kelly Maquette

 A small installation of works on paper by Ellsworth Kelly was recently installed in conjunction with Ellsworth Kelly: Panel Paintings 2004-2009, currently on view through September 22Included in these works is a small maquette by Kelly, done in preparation for a 2004 sculpture commissioned by the Phillips, shown below.

Installation view of Ellsworth Kelly's Maquette for EK 927, 2005. Photo: Joshua Navarro

Installation view of Ellsworth Kelly’s Maquette for EK 927, 2005. Mixed media, 9 x 11 x 5/8 in. (22.9 x 27.9 x 1.6 cm). The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., Acquired 2006. Photo: Joshua Navarro

To commemorate the new courtyard opening in 2006, The Phillips Collection commissioned Kelly to create a sculpture specifically conceived for the museum’s new courtyard as a gift of Phillips Trustee Margaret Stuart Hunter. Mounted at an unusual angle, Untitled (EK 927) (pictured below) is a large-scale bronze curve, perched elegantly on the west wall of the Hunter Courtyard. It reflects Kelly’s enduring interest in uncovering the reductive essentials in natural forms. There is a timeless and mysterious quality to the sculpture—a simple form of line, volume, and shadow that seems to defy gravity.

Ellsworth Kelly, Untitled, 2005. Bronze. 17 in x 63 3/16 in x 1 in; 297.22572 cm x 160.46704 cm x 2.54 cm. Commissioned in honor of Alice and Pamela Creighton, beloved daughters of Margaret Stuart Hunter, 2006. Photo: Lee Stalsworth

Ellsworth Kelly, Untitled (EK 927), 2005. Bronze. 17 in x 63 3/16 in x 1 in (297.2 x 160.5 x 2.5 cm). Commissioned in honor of Alice and Pamela Creighton, beloved daughters of Margaret Stuart Hunter, 2006. Photo: Lee Stalsworth

The sculpture and its corresponding maquette were both accessioned into the collection in 2006. You may be asking why the Phillips decided to acquire the model Kelly made for the sculpture and accession it into the collection as a work of art in itself.  Maquettes, by nature, are simply stand-ins for the real thing, and are frequently discarded once the installation of art is complete. When they are created by an artist, however, maquettes reveal much about the artistic process involved in creating a larger-scale work. This particular maquette was presented in 2006 to then-director Jay Gates and Ms. Hunter by Kelly himself, who was at the museum overseeing the installation of the sculpture, as a gift in honor of the collaboration. Accessioning the maquette into the collection was a conscious decision by staff to highlight Kelly’s creative process and the personal relationship between Kelly and the Phillips. As we honor Kelly during the year of his 90th birthday, we wanted to emphasize our history with the prolific artist and shed light on the process behind one of our most important works by featuring the maquette alongside the fully-realized works currently on display.

On a side note, this isn’t the only time a maquette for a sculpture has been accessioned into the museum’s collection. In 2012, a model for Seymour Lipton’s Oracle (1966), a bronze and Monel sculpture at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, was accessioned into our permanent collection. Lipton is well represented at the Phillips with sculpture and drawings, but this model was an important acquisition to the curatorial team as it reveals the artistic intent behind a finished product, as well as draws interesting comparisons to other works by the artist in our collection.

Seymour Lipton, Model for "Oracle" 1965. Nickel, silver, and bronze on Monel height: 15 inches (base: 4 1/4 x 3 3/4 x 2 7/8 x 3 1/2 in.) Gift of Alan Lipton, 2012.

Seymour Lipton, Model for “Oracle” 1965. Nickel, silver, and bronze on Monel height: 15 inches (base: 4 1/4 x 3 3/4 x 2 7/8 x 3 1/2 in.) Gift of Alan Lipton, 2012.