Ellsworth Kelly`s art relies on carefully balanced color, form, and scale. His vibrant panels for the courthouse in Boston act as chromatic beacons that draw visitors through a series of dramatic architectural vistas. Although the twenty-one aluminum panels are installed in several distinct areas of the courthouse, they function as a single artwork. Their spare and ordered geometry serves as a foil to the more complicated forms of the Boston skyline, visible through the courthouse`s spectacular glass curtain wall. Henry Cobb, the building`s architect, observed that it would be impossible now to imagine these spaces without Kelly`s artwork. Architectural engagement is an important aspect of The Boston Panels. From the earliest years of his career, Kelly has pursued a fundamental inquiry into the relationship between painting and architecture. For example, The Boston Panels harkens back to Kelly`s early collages Eight Color Pairs and the series Nine Colors on White. These and other paper collages were conceived as studies for architecturally scaled projects. The courthouse in Boston provided Kelly with an opportunity to realize these ideas on a grand scale. Kelly`s use of multiple, monochromatic panels has been likened to the anonymous work of a mason—an especially meaningful comparison for this artwork in a building where the expert laying of countless, handcrafted bricks was so essential. Likewise, his brilliantly colored panels are not narrative or symbolic. Instead, they isolate and distill fragments of visual experience. Although much of Kelly`s early painting and sculpture was first derived from his sketches and collages of observed forms (like shadow patterns on a staircase, a row of shop awnings, or a sliver of hillside), these sources are purposefully obscured. The results are intense concentrations of color and form that cultivate a heightened awareness of the visual environment. Of his work in general, Kelly has stated, “In a sense, what I`ve tried to capture is the reality of flux, to keep art an open, incomplete situation, to get at the rapture of seeing.”

Installed, 1998