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Artists' Perspectives: Ellsworth Kelly on the Shield (Grere’o [?]) from the Solomon Islands

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: I've always loved this shape, and the way it's narrow at the top, that goes down to a heavy curve at the bottom. The center part, in brown, is representing the body from shoulders down to the feet. And it reminds me of a cutout—a late cutout—that Matisse did called Zulma, where Zulma is a model; he did it from a model standing. And she's wearing a flimsy kind of coat. And she's naked from the neck all the way down to her feet. And it's very much like that. And you get that feeling that he's presenting himself.

But I've always loved this piece. I mean, it's like I want to possess it. You'd feel like every day you'd want to bow to it.

Shield (Grere'o [?]), early to mid-19th century. Solomon Islands, Possibly New Georgia or Guadalcanal Island, Western province. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1972 (1978.412.730)

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