Learning of the death of Ellsworth Kelly reminded me of the first time I viewed one of his works. The occasion was the Metropolitan Museum’s centennial exhibition, ‘New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940–1970’, curated by Henry Geldzahler when he was but 33 years old. The exhibition displayed 408 works by 43 artists whom Geldzahler identified as the key innovators of post-war art in New York. Geldzahler’s exhibition was an epic proclamation on American culture in the middle decades of the twentieth century. And it was encyclopaedic, exhibiting works from Abstract Expressionism to Pop. It was the first exhibition of its kind at the venerable Met and it was, from my perspective, an epiphany.
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