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Attention’s Span

WHEN ELLSWORTH KELLY RETURNED TO Paris in 1948, four years after having visited it as a member of the 603rd Engineers Camouflage Battalion of the United States Army, it was still the morning after survival. The occupation was over; the Nazis had been defeated. The relief and joy that the capital of European culture really had endured helped make Paris an exhilarating place, particularly for Americans, who were not under the same pressure as the French to come to terms with the devastating philosophical and political implications of the war. Aspects of the city that had been overlooked or taken for granted during the occupation were suddenly bathed in a new light. For an artist with Kelly’s independent mind and eye, and his sophisticated awareness of the psychological codes of architectural conventions, it is not surprising that the shape of a museum window, or the relationship of building

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