Magazine article Tate Etc.

Hidden Meanings

Magazine article Tate Etc.

Hidden Meanings

Article excerpt

Ellsworth Kelly, an American artist whose independent approach influenced hard-edge and colour field painting, examines abstraction of objects in nature using form, colour and line. Before Kelly became a pioneer of painting, though, he was a member of the 23 rd Headquarters Special Troops unit, also known as the 'Ghost Army'. Deployed in France during the Second World War, the US military tactical deception group was assembled by actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr. It consisted of about 1,100 artists, actors, musicians and others drawn from art schools (Kelly was studying in the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn at the time) and advertising agencies to design camouflage, construct fake military installations and rubber tanks, and to fabricate soundscapes - acoustic techniques also later used in the first Gulf War, when speaker systems hidden behind sand dunes were employed to influence movements on the battlefield by transmitting imaginary battle sounds.

The directive of the Ghost Army was to feed the Nazis duplicitous sounds of mass troop and artillery manoeuvres via large speakers mounted on armoured vehicles and generally to transmit disinformation about the numbers, plans and whereabouts of the allied forces.

More specifically, Kelly was part of the 603 rd Camouflage Engineers within the wider unit, alongside fashion designer Bill Blass and photographer Art Kane. …

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