Building upon a long history of philanthropic support, the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation and Jack Shear make grants and major gifts of artwork to 50 institutions across the country in celebration of the artist’s centennial.
Photo: Jack Shear. Courtesy Ellsworth Kelly Studio © Ellsworth Kelly Foundation.
New York, NY – The Ellsworth Kelly Foundation has awarded grants totaling $2,750,000 to 50 art museums across the country in celebration of Ellsworth Kelly’s centennial year, in tandem with gifts of artworks valued at $16 million from the artist’s longtime partner and husband, Jack Shear.
The Ellsworth Kelly Foundation, established in 1991, upholds the philanthropic legacy of one of America’s most beloved artists through its ongoing support of causes Ellsworth Kelly (1923–2015) supported generously during his lifetime, including: the conservation and exhibition of modern and contemporary artworks; historic preservation; environmental conservation; arts in education; and community life in rural Columbia County, NY where Kelly made his home for over 50 years. Since its founding the Foundation has donated over $30 million to support these causes.
This year the Foundation offers its largest grant-making initiative ever, giving $2,750,000 in grants to museums that hold Kelly’s work in their collections and help to steward the artist’s legacy.
“Ellsworth loved museums from a very young age and they were a key part of his education in Paris after the war. He understood their essential function in preserving, interpreting, and sharing our cultural heritage,” said Emily Rauh Pulitzer, a board member of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation.
To amplify the impact of this year’s Foundation grant awards, Jack Shear—President of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation—has personally made gifts of a curated selection of Ellsworth Kelly works on paper to each of the 50 museums. These gifts will complement each institution’s existing holdings of Kelly’s work, while enriching scholarship and public appreciation of the ground-breaking artist.
“The centennial gifts of Ellsworth’s artwork build upon Ellsworth’s long history of generosity to museums,” noted Shear. “Ellsworth gave his work to many museums around the world during his lifetime, including some of his most iconic works.”
The Philadelphia Museum of Art has announced the endowment of a museum gallery long dedicated to exhibiting Kelly’s early work. Noted Sasha Suda, the George D. Widener Director and CEO, “The museum is proud to create a permanent home for Ellsworth Kelly’s works as we dedicate the newly endowed Jennifer Rice and Michael Forman Gallery. Together with Jack Shear’s centennial gifts they form a perfect collaborative vision that underscores Kelly’s indelible place in the narrative of post-war art.” Carlos Basualdo, the Marion Boulton “Kippy” Stroud Chief Curator, added, “In 2006, we had an opportunity to work closely with Ellsworth himself to select some works from the early years he spent in Paris and to place them on view. This extraordinary endowment of the gallery displaying these works, alongside Jack Shear’s recent gifts, renews and deepens PMA’s commitment to Ellsworth Kelly and his continuing legacy at the museum.”
Highlighting Kelly’s decades-long relationship with the Art Institute of Chicago, President and Eloise W. Martin Director James Rondeau said, “Our galleries have long been graced by Ellsworth’s extraordinary visual language, from early works on paper and sketchbooks to monumental sculpture and paintings. We are deeply grateful to the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation and to Jack Shear for supporting our work to share Ellsworth’s artistic legacy with millions of museum visitors.”
The complete list of 50 museums receiving grants and gifts is as follows. Five museums receiving $100,000 grants and major gifts of works on paper:
- Art Institute of Chicago
- Philadelphia Museum of Art
- The Museum of Modern Art
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
- Whitney Museum of American Art
Forty-five museums receiving $50,000 grants and gifts of works on paper:
- Addison Gallery of American Art
- Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts
- Baltimore Museum of Art
- Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin
- The Broad Museum
- Buffalo-AKG Art Museum
- Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University
- Carnegie Museum of Art
- Cincinnati Art Museum
- Cleveland Museum of Art
- Dallas Museum of Art
- Des Moines Art Center
- Detroit Institute of Arts
- Harvard Art Museums
- High Museum of Art
- Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden
- Hood Museum of Art
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art
- The Menil Collection
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Milwaukee Art Museum
- Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
- The Morgan Library & Museum
- Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
- Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego
- Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
- The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
- National Gallery of Art
- Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
- Neuberger Museum of Art
- Norton Simon Museum
- The Phillips Collection
- Pulitzer Arts Foundation
- RISD Museum
- Rose Art Museum
- Seattle Art Museum
- Smithsonian American Art Museum
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
- Tang Teaching Museum & Art Gallery
- University of Oregon Schnitzer Museum of Art
- Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
- Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
- Walker Art Center
- Worcester Art Museum
- Yale University Art Gallery
Extending this centennial moment, a large coalition of Ellsworth Kelly exhibitions are being organized this year to showcase Kelly’s indelible legacy. Major presentations at The Museum of Modern Art, Glenstone Museum, and Art Institute of Chicago offer some of the most iconic works by Kelly alongside rarely seen works that shed new light on his many contributions to art history. These substantial exhibitions will be complemented by additional presentations at Fondazione Nicola Del Roscio, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin, Lever House, the Edward Hopper House Museum & Study Center, Gemini G.E.L., Peder Lund Gallery, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. More information on the centennial exhibitions can be found in a press release at this link.
ABOUT ELLSWORTH KELLY CENTENNIAL
Ellsworth Kelly (1923–2015) is widely regarded as one of the most important painters, sculptors, and printmakers of his time. On the occasion of his May 31 centennial, a year-long celebration will showcase the artist’s indelible legacy. This collaborative event will include exhibitions and installations at the Art Institute of Chicago, Glenstone Museum, and The Museum of Modern Art, among others; new publications; multiple gifts of artworks to museums; grant awards from the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation; a scholarly symposium; and new digital initiatives to ensure that Kelly’s legacy endures for another 100 years, and beyond.
@ellsworthkellystudio, #ellsworthkelly100, #EK100
ABOUT ELLSWORTH KELLY
Ellsworth Kelly (born May 31, 1923, Newburgh, New York, U.S.–died December 2015, Spencertown, NY), painter, sculptor, draftsman, printmaker, photographer, and philanthropist, is now considered one of the most significant artists of his time. Spanning seven decades, his career was marked by the independent route he took from any formal school or art movement and by his innovative contribution to twentieth century art. The consistency of his artistic vision ensured that each work was immediately recognizable as his own, even when he experimented with new forms and materials. Today, Kelly is known as a pioneer of abstract art and one of the most distinctive and influential artists of our time.
Kelly’s first solo exhibition was at the Galerie Arnaud in Paris in 1951. His retrospective exhibitions include Ellsworth Kelly at The Museum of Modern Art in 1973; Ellsworth Kelly Recent Paintings and Sculpture at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1979; Ellsworth Kelly Sculpture in 1982 at the Whitney Museum of American Art and Saint Louis Art Museum; and Ellsworth Kelly: A Retrospective organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1996 and traveled to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Tate, London; and the Haus der Kunst, Munich.
One of the artist’s final works, Austin (2015), a 2,715-square-foot stone building with luminous colored glass windows, a totemic wood sculpture, and fourteen black-and-white stone panels in marble, was the only building Kelly ever designed. It is sited on the grounds of the Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin.
Recent exhibitions of note include Ellsworth Kelly Windows/Fenêtres (2019) at Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Ellsworth Kelly Sculpture (2021) at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; and Ellsworth Kelly: Blue Green Black Red (2022) at Matthew Marks Gallery, New York.
In 2012, Ellsworth Kelly received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama. The award citation observed that the artist “has shaped more than half a century of abstraction and remains a vital influence in American art.” The Smithsonian Institute issued a similar declaration in 2015 when it selected Kelly for their James Smithson Bicentennial Medal, describing him as “one of the most important abstract artists.”
Kelly received honorary doctoral degrees from Pratt Institute, Bard College, Harvard University, Williams College, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Brandeis University, and the Royal College of Art, London. Among numerous awards received are Japan’s Praemium Imperiale Award in 2000 and France’s Officier de la Legion d’Honneur presented by President of France Nicolas Sarkozy in 2009. In 2019, Kelly’s groundbreaking approach to abstraction was honored by the U.S. Postal Service with ten U.S “Forever” stamps featuring his work.
ABOUT THE ELLSWORTH KELLY FOUNDATION
The Ellsworth Kelly Foundation upholds the philanthropic legacy of one of America’s preeminent artists through its ongoing support of causes Ellsworth Kelly (1923–2015) cared about deeply and supported generously during his lifetime: the arts, historic preservation, environmental conservation, and education. The Foundation is also proud to assist the efforts of local community groups working to conserve and protect the cultural, historic, civic, and natural resources of Columbia County, NY, where Ellsworth lived and worked for nearly 50 years. Since its inception in 1991, the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation has donated over $30 million to support these causes. Grant awards by the Foundation are Board directed.
ABOUT JACK SHEAR
Jack Shear (b. 1953) is a photographer, art collector, and philanthropist who lives and works in New York City and Spencertown, NY. He was married to the renowned artist, Ellsworth Kelly, and now serves as President of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation.
Shear’s photography emphasizes portraiture and nudes. He is represented in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art and has published a number of books of his photography. The most recent, Knot (Copper Canyon Press, 2022) is a collaboration with Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Forrest Gander.
Shear has also built an outstanding collection of drawings ranging from old masters to contemporary artists. Recent exhibitions of works from the collection were held at the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas, Austin and at The Drawing Center in New York, NY. In 2020 he was honored by The Drawing Center for his work as a collector. He currently serves on the Drawings and Prints Committee at The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the executive committee of the museum’s International Council. Shear is also a trustee for the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies.
Among his many philanthropic initiatives, Jack Shear endowed The Steve Reich Fellowship at The Juilliard School to support emerging talent in contemporary music. He was named a Prince and High Dignitary of the Royal Palace of the Kingdom of Allude for his support of the Vodoun Cultural Festival and is a founding sponsor of the “Voices of Alabama,” a civil rights oral history project through the World Monuments Fund.
Account Executive, Cultural Counsel