Shape, Ground, Shadow: The Photographs of Ellsworth Kelly

This landmark exhibition features 60 photographs by renowned American artist Ellsworth Kelly (1923–2015), who perceptively created a commanding body of abstract art drawn from forms he found in the everyday world. Extraordinary works of art in their own right, Kelly’s photographs allow viewers to precisely see how the artist registered the shapes, shadows, and other visual phenomena that resonated within his work in other media over seven decades. This is the very first museum exhibition solely devoted to Kelly’s photographs, which are being lent by the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation in Spencertown, New York.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is the only West Coast museum participating in EK100, the 2023 centennial celebration of Kelly’s birth with exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Glenstone Museum, Potomac, MD; Philadelphia Museum of Art; La Fondazione Nicola Del Roscio, Rome; and further international venues in 2024.

Free* docent-led gallery tours are conducted daily and meet in Ludington Court near the State Street entrance. Tours provide an engaging opportunity to experience and discuss a variety of works in a relaxed, informal setting.

Tour Availability

11:30 am
January: 14

1 pm
January: 4, 10, 12, 13, 14

*free with the price of admission

Drop-In Meditation: Shape, Ground, Shadow: The Photographs of Ellsworth Kelly
Thursday | January 3 & 10, 2024 | 4pm | McCormick Gallery

This 45-minute drop-in meditation session is led by Vivian Valentin, PhD, Co-Founder, Executive Director, and Lead Mindfulness Facilitator of Kind Mind. It begins with mindful looking at the photographs of Ellsworth Kelly and a guided meditation, followed by an opportunity to share insights. Beginners welcome.

First come, first seated (limited to 20 participants)


We encourage families to tour the exhibition using the free guides available in the galleries and at the Visitor Services desks. Afterwards enjoy free art making in the Family Resource Center on Thursdays from 5-7pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 12 – 4pm.

Family Guide

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