Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015) was an American painter, sculptor, and printmaker associated with hard-edge painting, Color Field painting, and minimalism. His passion for form and color developed out of his introduction to ornithology by his paternal grandmother, who lived near the Oradell Reservoir in New Jersey. John James Audubon had a particularly strong influence on Kelly's work throughout his career.
He entered the U.S. military in 1943 and requested to be assigned to the 603rd Engineers Camouflage Battalion, which took many artists. During World War II, he served with other artists and designers in a deception unit known as The Ghost Army. The Ghost soldiers used inflatable tanks, trucks, and other elements of subterfuge to mislead the Axis forces about the direction and disposition of Allied forces. His exposure to military camouflage during the time he served became part of his basic art training.
Kelly used the G.I. Bill to study from 1946-47 at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where he took advantage of the museum's collections, and then at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris.