By Pat Ciarrocchi
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The steel bars and aluminum panels of color stretch across the gallery of the Barnes, making a grand yet playful statement. It’s excavated from the creative genius of Ellsworth Kelly, the artist still eager — even in his ninth decade of life – to hold court among journalists who want to know more about his sculpture.
Kelly is an abstract artist who came to see the installation of his wall sculptures, which are on exhibit at the Barnes Foundation this summer.
“I’ve always been very inquisitive visually, I like to play with shape,” said Kelly.
As he talked to Pat Ciarrocchi, Kelly’s eyes darted to the scene behind her.
“Right now, people are walking behind you, and I love the way they move. That’s like magic.”
The piece that fills an entire wall of the exhibit gallery emptied just for this show is called “Sculpture for a Large Wall.” It was commissioned in 1956 for Philadelphia’s Penn Center but was removed in 1998 when architects wanted to redesign the space where it had hung for so long.
The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York knew Kelly’s work was masterful. Now, it’s in MOMA’s permanent collection – on loan to the Barnes.
“The greatest artists have got the most extraordinary minds,” said Barnes Foundation President Derek Gillman. “Ellsworth is absolutely at the top of his game. We want to be like that when we are 89.”
This is the first exhibit of modern art to be presented at the Barnes, as the museum celebrates the first anniversary of its collection of masterpieces moving into its new home on the Parkway.
Kelly says the magic is in working new ideas, of which he has many. When he orders a stretcher on which he’ll mount a new sculpture, he says he makes a pact with the universe.
“I say, I have to have four or five months. Promise, me, I have enough to finish these ideas.”
ELLSWORTH KELLY: SCULPTURE ON THE WALL is on exhibit at the Barnes Foundation from now until September 2, 2013.
For more information, visit: www.barnesfoundation.org