On the occasion of the exhibition Ellsworth Kelly Plant Drawings (on view June 5–September 3, 2012), the artist recorded his thoughts about various works of art in the Met's collection.
Ellsworth Kelly: Shape and color in this painting are what interest me very much. The blue book, the red book, and the orange of the back of the chair, and the green table, and the yellow background.
That yellow is Van Gogh. It's like sunlight, which expands even bigger than the painting. You see a little bit inside the chair, which is like a little island of yellow. And there's another one down by her right arm, just a little tie of color that brings the picture together.
That orange peninsula of the back of the chair, held up by the wood, is very sculptural. It's very much like Picasso, really. Picasso and Matisse got a great deal from how to compose a picture like this. This is a painting up front, and it teaches people when you look at it—young painters—how to make a picture.
Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890). L'Arlésienne: Madame Joseph-Michel Ginoux (Marie Julien, 1848–1911), 1888–89. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of Sam A. Lewisohn, 1951 (51.112.3)