Kelly exhibition is set for Barnes

The new home of the Barnes Foundation on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will present Ellsworth Kelly's artwork.
The new home of the Barnes Foundation on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will present Ellsworth Kelly's artwork. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer)
Posted: December 02, 2012

An exhibition of wall sculptures by Ellsworth Kelly - including a large piece that once graced the old Greyhound terminal at 17th and Market Streets - will be presented at the Barnes Foundation from May 4 through Sept. 2, Barnes officials announced Thursday.

It will be the first show of non-foundation works at the new Barnes on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The initial special exhibition included foundation works not regularly on public view.

"We are thrilled to inaugurate our program of contemporary exhibitions with a presentation of works by Ellsworth Kelly, an acknowledged master of the 20th and 21st centuries," said Derek Gillman, Barnes president and director. "The exhibition program will complement and illuminate the celebrated and encyclopedic Barnes collection and honor the founder's commitment to contemporary art."

(Kelly's 40-foot Barnes Totem, commissioned for the foundation's grounds by the Neubauer Family Foundation, was installed last spring.)

The centerpiece of the Kelly exhibition is now called Sculpture for a Large Wall (1956-57). Since 1996 it has been owned by the Museum of Modern Art, which largely has kept it in storage. It originally was installed in the Greyhound terminal in 1957 and called the Transportation Building Lobby Sculpture. It was Philadelphia's first piece of abstract public art.

When the building was renovated in the 1990s, the work was quietly sold to Kelly's New York dealer, stunning Philadelphia's cultural community. "It never even occurred to me that it could be removed or moved - never," said Anne d'Harnoncourt, then director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

But moved it was. Now it will return to be displayed a few blocks from its original location. Kelly once called the piece "the summation of all the pieces I'd done before."

Other works in the Barnes show will be announced at a later time, officials said.

An illustrated catalog with an essay by Judith F. Dolkart, deputy director of art and archival collections and the Barnes's chief curator, will accompany the Kelly exhibition.

Contact Stephan Salisbury at 215-854-5594,, or @SPSalisbury on Twitter.

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