Ellsworth Kelly’s earliest works of art were created in service to the United States, as part of a special camouflage unit in France during World War II. Kelly and his fellow artist-soldiers were tasked with fooling the Germans—using rubber and wood to construct fake tanks and trucks—into thinking the multitudes of Allied troops on the battlefield were much larger than reality. While this seems an unconventional early training for an artist, it proved a fitting one for Kelly.
“He was able to understand that there were these realities that for most of us are camouflaged,” says Virginia Mecklenburg, chief curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “He would evoke those realities—a distinct feel of gravity, or the physics of weight and momentum that we rarely think about in tangible terms. He was able to get that across.” Continue reading ELLSWORTH KELLY, hard edge art legend