Dartmouth Panels (2012)
Ellsworth Kelly, American, 1923–2015
Panel: 266 x 66 x 4 1/2 in. (675.641 x 167.64 x 11.43 cm)
Ellsworth Kelly’s Dartmouth Panels present color in its purest form, distilled to five instances of stunningly vibrant hues, separate but unified in the careful, rhythmic balance of a spectrum. Each panel is a brilliant optical event of its own, and together, they become an immersive experience that transforms the entire space around them with their powerful presence, reorganizing it around their structure.
The Dartmouth Panels were commissioned specifically for their installation in Dartmouth’s Maffei Plaza, to hang on the wall of the Hopkins Center, facing the Black Family Visual Arts Center. Clearly designed for the architectural context, the massive vertical blocks of color are harmoniously integrated into the preexisting space, and yet they act on that environment through the chromatic energy and intensity they generate. Each flat, monochrome surface seems to project off the architectural structure into open space, transcending the limits of painting and asserting their presence to the viewer.
Recognizable everywhere in the world around us and reminiscent of childhood, the colors are profoundly familiar and evocative. The symbolic structure of the spectrum references a universal phenomenon in the visual world, and Ellsworth Kelly’s interpretation of it in his classic vivid hues and uplifting monumental verticality offers to all passersby a euphoric reflection on the joy of pure color.
For Comparison: Ellsworth Kelly & Sol LeWitt
Video of Ellsworth Kelly's Dartmouth Panels (2012) on the exterior of the Hopkins Center's Spaulding Auditorium, overlooking the Maffei Arts Plaza.