Artists' Perspectives: Ellsworth Kelly on the Cypriot Copper Ingot

On the occasion of the exhibition Ellsworth Kelly Plant Drawings (on view June 5–September 3, 2012), the artist recorded his thoughts about various works of art in the Met's collection.

Ellsworth Kelly: What interests me so much is in my career, late career, I began doing shaped paintings. This, of course, attracts someone because of the shape. And it has a human feeling to it. The single shape by itself is something that American artists and European artists have taken up recently, because they have forsaken the rectangle a lot. They want to do things that are shapes, objects.

The shape of it is something that intrigued me some years ago. And I have a large, dark blue, solid-color painting in this shape, with the four curves. And it's about seven, eight feet square. And when I saw this I said, "Aha, someone's been here before me." As far away as 1400 B.C.

People that are looking for what to do in contemporary art, this has a lot of clues.

Copper ingot, ca. 1450–1050 B.C. Late Bronze Age. Cypriot. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1911 (11.140.7)

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