Yellow Blue is back... or is it?

Yellow Blue at ESP

Kelly is said to have thought the ESP needed some color.

The Ellsworth Kelly sculpture Yellow Blue is back in its place at the foot of Building 3 at the ESP. It had been on a sort of spa vacation for the last couple of months. And it's returned looking very refreshed.

The state had sent Yellow Blue out to be restored in June. The restoration included stripping all the old paint, filling in gouges, smoothing other rough spots, and then repainting the piece.

All that work made us wonder: is the piece that now sits on the ESP still Yellow Blue?

The state says that the studio of Ellsworth Kelly, the artist who first created the piece, approved the paint colors for the restoration (Kelly's still alive -- apparently he lives in Columbia County). And, sure, it is still (basically) the same chunk of steel. But if Kelly himself didn't work on it, is it really Yellow Blue? And even if he had, at what point does restoration give way to re-creation? What matters most: the object or the idea?

This sort of question has been bouncing around the art world for a long time, especially since artists such as Duchamp started authorizing replicas of their work (though, really, the question goes back at least as far the Renaissance).

Restored, re-created, replicated -- however you want to describe it -- Yellow Blue is back on the ESP. Next time you're there, check it out and watch for the optical illusions it creates.

Yellow Blue at ESP wide shot

Find It

Yellow Blue by Ellsworth Kelly
Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12242

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This is potentially good news for St. Josephs. I walk around it 2 or 3 times a week and the last few years the deterioration has seemed to accelerate. She will be looking right at it everyday from her front windows.

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