Unlike a rainbow or a prismatic spectrum of colors, Kelly’s Spectrum I begins and ends with the same shade of yellow, a decision that reflects his interests in the sensory effects of color juxtapositions. The intervening sweep from green to golden orange makes it difficult to tell that the two yellows are, in fact, the same. Although Kelly always created his own subtle blends, spectral colors—the twelve primary, secondary, and tertiary hues of the color wheel—became central to his palette in the early 1950s. He made eight Spectrum paintings between 1953 and 2014, ranging from this easel-size work—the first in the series—to a monumental installation nearly fifty feet long.
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