Ellsworth Kelly - New Now New York Wednesday, September 30, 2020 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    Marianne Preger-Simon (gifted by the artist)
    Gifted by the above to the present owner

  • Literature

    Marianne Preger-Simon, Dancing With Merce Cummingham, Gainesville, 2019, p. 25 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Executed in 1949 against the in the vibrant artistic backdrop of postwar Paris, the present work, a drawing of dancer Marianne Preger-Simon by renowned midcentury master Ellsworth Kelly, encapsulates not only a friendship between two emerging artists but also the revolutionary spirit of the time and place of their early artistic awakenings. Rendered with a carefree but compassionate hand, Marianne demonstrates the virtuosic artistic facility and classical comprehension of form that served as the practical and intellectual underpinnings of Kelly’s later groundbreaking achievements with line, color, and form.

    “I was a young art student studying painting under Arthur Polonsky while he was teaching assistant to Ben Shahn at the Boston Museum School Summer Session in Pittsfield, MA in 1947. I went to Paris the following years, 1948-1949, to continue studying art and dance. A number of amazing artists were there on a Boston Museum School traveling fellowship as well. These artists included Ellsworth Kelly and my former teacher, Arthur Polonsky. It was an exciting time as Paris was reawakening after the war, and art and culture were rising up out of the ruins. When our group of young artists got together in our small flats and beautiful spots around the city, it mostly consisted of drawing each other. On the occasion of this particular portrait of me, Ellsworth drew my portrait, while at the same time, I also drew his. Fortunately, Ellsworth gave me his drawing and I kept mine of him. While in Paris that year, I also started taking classes with Merce Cunningham and later was honored to become a founding member of his dance company, which had an immense impact on the avant-garde world of dance. Both Ellsworth’s and my drawing appear in my recently published memoir, Dancing with Merce Cunningham.” – Marianne Preger-Simon, 7/2020.

    Fast-forward 71 years: Artist and filmmaker Gabriel Polonsky is now in production on a documentary film, Release From Reason, detailing the life, work, and times of the director’s late father, renowned Boston Expressionist painter Arthur Polonsky. Gabriel recently met with Marianne, now 91 and living outside of Northampton, MA, to film an interview for the film. Marianne tells him of her magical time in Paris dancing with Merce Cunningham and being part of the circle of young artists that included Ellsworth Kelly, even revealing that she was actually engaged to marry Gabriel’s father at the time. In a wonderful act of generosity, Marianne decides to gift Gabriel with the original drawing Kelly drew of her, as well as the one that she drew of him, to help support the completion of the film.

  • Artist Biography

    Ellsworth Kelly

    American • 1923 - 2015

    Acting as a vital contributor to the Abstract movement, Ellsworth Kelly focused on color and composition. Becoming inspired by ornithology and the bold coloring of birds, Kelly used a two or three pigment color palette — painted flatly and geometrically — on his canvases. While living in Paris, the artist used Monet's late works as a base for experimenting with expressionism and serial work

    View More Works



signed "Kelly" lower right
graphite on paper
10 1/2 x 8 in. (26.7 x 20.3 cm)
Executed in 1949.

$8,000 - 12,000 

Contact Specialist

Sam Mansour
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1219

New Now

New York Auction 30 September 2020