Gay artist Ellsworth Kelly dies

Posted on 28 Dec 2015 at 9:37am

Untitled at the DMA by Ellsworth Kelly

Renowned gay artist Ellsworth Kelly, 92, died on Sunday, Dec. 27.

Kelly created the stainless steel sculpture “Untitled” for the opening of the Dallas Museum of Art in downtown Dallas in 1983. That work stands as the centerpiece of the museum’s sculpture garden.

I met Kelly in 2004 when the museum featured the artist’s work in an exhibit entitled Ellsworth Kelly in Dallas.

The museum held a press luncheon where the artist spoke. At the end of his short talk, Kelly invited members of the media to walk through the exhibit with him. I was the only reporter interested enough to stick around and have the artist talk about his work.

Well, if only one newspaper was going to spend time with him, he was delighted it was the gay paper.

We stood in front of one painting that he told me he hadn’t seen since he sold it to a Swiss collector in 1952. Walking through the exhibit with him was like being with someone visiting friends he hadn’t seen in years.

I commented to him about one painting that used similar shapes to the sculpture in the garden. Excited, he ran to the window outside the Barrel Vault to see his sculpture that he hadn’t seen in two decades and said, “Yes!” That was the painting he had in mind when he created the work for the museum, he told me.

Kelly’s work also hangs in the Meyerson Symphony Center.

I spent about an hour with Mr. Kelly and what I remember most was what a sweet man he was. He is survived by his husband Jack Shear.

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