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American minimalist artist Ellsworth Kelly dies at 92

The painter and sculptor Ellsworth Kelly was known for his use of bright colors and simple patterns. He has been described as bridging American and European modernism.

The 92-year old died of natural causes, and is survived by his longtime partner Jack Shearm, according to gallery owner Matthew Markson Sunday.

Kelly was born outside of New York City in 1923. He served in Europe during World War II, as part of the US army camouflage battalion, according to the US radio network NPR. In addition to hiding the military equipment, the unit was also tasked with making fake jeeps and tanks.

Over 1,000 soldiers worked in the top-secret division, including many art students.

Kelly left the army after the war ended in 1945. Three years later, he returned to Europe to study art at the National School of Fine Arts in Paris. Part of the expenses was covered by the so-called GI bill, the US legislations subsidizing college education for former soldiers.

The late artist also had his first solo exhibition in Paris in 1951.

"I think he bridged European and American modernism," Marks said. "He was a real American original."

'Stepping into the future'

Kelly returned to the US in the early 1950's and continued his studies in Boston.

During his long career, he produced sculptures and paintings showing simple shapes or blocks of color, with his work often classified as abstract minimalism. The US artist did public commissions around the world, including a 13-meter (14.2 yards) high stainless steel totem for the US embassy in Berlin.

"I am nourished by the past, I am questioning the present, and I am stepping into the future," Kelly said at the opening of a large wing displaying ing his work at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts in 2013.

dj/xx (Reuters, AFP)