US-born Ellsworth Kelly trained at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn for two years as a young man before he was conscripted to the army in 1943. After the war, he began his career as an artist in America and France. He studied first at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston then at the Ecole National Superieure Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he moved in 1948. Kelly worked as a painter, printmaker and sculptor and is most often associated with the minimalist and surrealist styles. His simple technique used bright, bold colours, lines and forms to convey its message.
Ellsworth Kelly began by painting figures then switched to more abstract work while in Paris in 1949. When he returned to the US in 1954, his work was considered European and was radically different from other young American artists. Because of this, it took him a while to settle into the New York art scene, though he is now considered a giant of 20th century American art. His work was shown at many preeminent exhibitions during his lifetime, including a 1957 showing at the Whitney Museum of American Art and his 1963 display ‘Towards a New Abstraction’ at the Jewish Museum.