b. 1923, Newburgh, New York
Kelly’s studies of art in Brooklyn, Boston and Paris were interrupted by military service, when he was stationed in England and France in 1944–45. Inspired by the artistic principle of chance and the collage techniques espoused by Jean Arp and Constantin Brancusi, Kelly produced his first Shaped Canvases – composite pictures assembled from several non-rectangular panels. His discovery in 1952 of Monet’s late work infused him with a new freedom of painterly expression: he began working in extremely large formats and explored the concepts of seriality and monochrome paintings. During the 1960s he started working with irregularly angled canvases and in the 1970s he added curved shapes to his repertoire. In the 1980s he exchanged his mute palette for brilliant colours and biomorphic forms. Since the 1960s Kelly has also had success as a printmaker, producing over 130 editions of prints in collaboration with the Gemini G.E.L. workshop in Los Angeles.