Ellsworth Kelly, Abstract to the End

“Diptych: Green Blue” (2015), from “Ellsworth Kelly: Last Works,” at the Matthew Marks Gallery.

SPENCERTOWN, N.Y. — On the eve of his 90th birthday in 2013, Ellsworth Kelly told me that working in his studio in Columbia County was “as exciting for me as ever.”

“I have had some physical challenges related to aging, though I accept it,” the painter said. “But it has given me an added surge for continuing to create new work.”

Though suffering from emphysema in his last several years — a result of longtime exposure to turpentine fumes — Kelly was still remarkably productive and immersed in his lifelong investigation of form, color and plane. He died in his home here on Dec. 27, 2015, two days after he and Jack Shear, his partner of 32 years, hosted Jasper Johns and Terry Winters, among others, for Christmas. Kelly had 10 paintings on his studio walls completed that year, with a freshly gessoed panel ready to work on.

These paintings, some reworkings of much earlier canvases, go on view for the first time on Friday in “Ellsworth Kelly: Last Paintings,” at the Matthew Marks Gallery on West 22nd Street in Chelsea. A companion show next door, “Ellsworth Kelly: Plant Drawings,” includes 25 images of flowers, fruit, vegetables and leaves dating from 1949 to 2008, most never before exhibited and often drawn without the pencil’s ever leaving the page.

Last month, before the paintings were shipped to the gallery, Mr. Shear welcomed me to the expansive studio and offices here in Spencertown, from which he runs the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation. On one wall are side-by-side portraits of the two men taken by Robert Mapplethorpe in the 1980s after they met in Los Angeles, where Mr. Shear, three decades Kelly’s junior, worked as a photographer. Mr. Shear moved to Spencertown in 1984 in what the two men termed “an experiment,” which became a lasting marriage.

In the studio, nary a paintbrush has been moved. A tall rolling library ladder remains in the corner, draped with Kelly’s paint-splattered work clothes. On a well-ordered desk, a legal pad topped by a ruler and a pencil sits near the small device with which the artist measured his oxygen level throughout the day. (He referred to the oxygen tanks he needed as his “tail.”)

In the artist’s brilliantly illuminated studio hung a two-panel painting titled “White Over Black III,” a white vertical rectangle overlapping a slightly larger black one. “It has this doorlike quality to it,” said Mr. Shear, noting how the white shape perceptually “flips” between projecting forward and receding. “Ellsworth likes to play games with vision more than anything,” said Mr. Shear, who still speaks of his partner in the present tense.

On another wall, a green rectangular panel hung beside a blue oval. The diptych recalls Kelly’s 1963 canvas “Green Blue Red.” By eliminating the red background, Kelly changed the dynamic and integrated the white wall as a compositional element.

Mr. Marks, the gallerist, traced the source of both paintings to a 1950 photograph that Kelly took, “Trapeze Swings, Meschers,” showing a right-angled swing hanging in a jungle gym beside a curved swing. “It’s a huge leap to get from that” to the paintings, Mr. Marks said, “but he saw things in nature that inspired his work.”

Kelly had been an avid bird-watcher since his boyhood, and Mr. Marks connected the artist’s recurring use of the arrow form with his early study of bird shapes in Audubon watercolors.

Kelly developed his rigorous approach to abstraction as a young artist in 1948, pivoting away from the psychologically charged paintings of the Abstract Expressionists who dominated the New York scene. He went to Paris for six years and began isolating interesting shapes he found in plants, buildings, shadows and reflections — which he then blew up in scale and painted in flat, monochromatic hues.

While artists, including Monet and Picasso, have often had a dramatic shift in their late work, Ann Temkin, the chief curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, was struck by how “remarkably true” Kelly remained to the vocabulary he had established seven decades earlier.

George Barris at a memorial service in 2012, on the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death.

George Barris was born on June 14, 1922, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He was the youngest of nine children of Joseph and Eva Barris, immigrants from Romania, who lived on Delancey Street but soon moved to the Bronx. According to Mr. Barris’s website, George was 6 when his brother Willie gave him a box camera; his fascination with photography was born.

Mr. Barris served in the Army during World War II, working as a photographer. One of his last assignments was to cover Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s homecoming victory parade in New York in June 1945.

In civilian life, he worked for Parade, the weekly magazine that appeared in hundreds of Sunday newspapers, and other publications. He was the photographer for a book about a young nun and convent life. While working in Florida, he took on a young assistant, Steve McQueen (whose driving frightened him, he told his family years later), but soon encouraged him to go back to New York to pursue his acting career.

If Mr. Barris was not photographing Hollywood’s biggest stars — among them Marlon Brando, Clark Gable, Frank Sinatra and Sophia Loren — he might be shooting an album cover or posing models as cigarette-smoking gangsters and molls for Real Detective magazine. He worked in Rome on the set of “Cleopatra,” the 1963 epic starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and declared it “a big, big mess.” (The accountants at 20th Century Fox and the tabloid press agreed.)

But it was for his work with Monroe that Mr. Barris was best known, and he never shied away from the association.

In addition to Ms. Steinem’s book, he published his photographs of Monroe in a 1995 book, “Marilyn: Her Life in Her Own Words: Marilyn Monroe’s Revealing Last Words and Photographs.” In 2012, the 50th anniversary of her death, he gave multiple interviews, and his photos were the centerpiece of “An Intimate Look at the Legend,” an exhibition of Monroe memorabilia at the Hollywood Museum. Eight of his prints from the last shoot were sold at auction in 2015.

Mr. Barris left the United States after Monroe’s death, partly to escape the controversy and any suspicion that he knew more than he was telling, and lived in Paris for two decades.

In addition to his daughter Caroline, his survivors include his wife, Carla, whom he met there, and another daughter, Stephanie Barris.

Even in his old age, Mr. Barris was being asked about Monroe. “She projected such joy when the camera was on,” he told The Chicago Sun-Times in 2004. “And all these years later, the world still can’t forget her face.”

There she is, in Mr. Barris’s very last shot of the day in Santa Monica — it was a Friday the 13th — sitting in the sand, bundled up in an oatmeal-colored Mexican sweater, her blond hair tousled, her hands clasped, and her lips pursed, as if in a kiss. He always told people that she had just said, “This one’s for you, George.”

Excerpt from The New York Times, “Ellsworth Kelly, Abstract to the End” Written by Hilarie M. Sheets, May 3, 2017