Contrasting combinations

In this series of five paintings, Ellsworth Kelly utilizes the fact that contrasting colours have a different and stronger effect than separate, isolated colours. In each part he places two evenly painted, monochrome square canvases tightly together, in the combinations red and blue, yellow and blue, red and yellow, black and white, and finally light blue and green.

Experience of colour

The colour fields clash with each other in these monumental canvases. Nothing distracts from what this is all about: colours that reinforce each other in pairs. Furthermore, the basic form of the two combined squares is little more than a means by which to evoke an intense, almost physical experience of the colour.


In Kelly’s works, the pure sensory aspect of seeing is paramount; they have no meaning outside the painting itself. For him the painting is an object, a coloured surface, or as he puts it: ‘a fragment of the visual world, where the third dimension is removed’.