Ellsworth Kelly

About Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly was born in 1923, in Newburgh, New York. He studied at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn before being inducted into the Army in 1943. Upon entering the service, Kelly requested to be assigned to the 603rd Engineers Camouflage Battalion, which took many artists. Eventually, he served in The Ghost Army, a deception unit made up of artists and designers which produced inflatable tanks, trucks, and other elements of subterfuge to mislead the Axis forces about the direction and disposition of Allied forces. After the war, Kelly studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In France, he discovered Romanesque and Byzantine art and met many fellow artists. He returned to New York in 1954 and had his first New York City exhibition at Betty Parsons’ Gallery two years later. After living and working for several years in Coenties Slip, Kelly moved to Spencertown in 1970 where he lived and worked until his death in 2015. Kelly began creating prints in the mid 1960s, first producing the Suite of Twenty-Seven Lithographs (1964–66) with Maeght Éditeur in Paris. Later, he would primarily collaborate with Gemini G.E.L. in Los Angeles, completing over 250 lithographs, screenprints, aquatints, etchings, and sculpture editions at Gemini. In 1959, Kelly was included in the Museum of Modern Art’s ground-breaking exhibition, Sixteen Americans . Two years later, he was invited to show at the São Paulo Biennial. Kelly’s first retrospective was held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1973. A career retrospective was organized in 1996 by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.