It’s Day 166 and I thought I’d work with more colors today…like a rainbow of colors! Join me in honoring Paul Jenkins today. I had some challenges that I’ll explain after we learn a little about him. 🙂
Paul Jenkins (July 12, 1923 – June 9, 2012) was an American abstract expressionist painter.
William Paul Jenkins (known as Paul Jenkins) was born in 1923 in Kansas City,
Missouri, where he was raised. He met Frank Lloyd Wright who was commissioned by the artist’s great-uncle, the Rev. Burris Jenkins [whose own motto was to live dangerously, to rebuild his church in Kansas City, Missouri after a fire. (Wright suggested that Jenkins should think about a career in agriculture rather than art.) The young Jenkins also visited Thomas Hart Benton and confided his intention to become a painter. The Eastern art collection of the Nelson-Atkins Museum (then, the William Rockhill Nelson Art Gallery) had an early influence on him.
In his teenage years, Jenkins moved to Struthers, Ohio to live with his mother, Nadyne Herrick, and stepfather, who both ran the local newspaper, the Hometown Journal (then the Struthers Journal). After graduating from Struthers High School, he served in the U.S. Maritime Service and entered the U.S. Naval Air Corps during World War II. In 1948, he moved to New York City where, on the G.I. Bill, he studied at the Art Students League of New York with Yasuo Kuniyoshi for four years, and with Morris Kantor. During that time, he met Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, and Barnett Newman. In 1953, he traveled to Europe, working for three months in Taormina in Sicily before settling inParis, France. From 1955 on, the artist shared his time between New York and Paris.
In 1953, after studying with Yasuo Kuniyoshi at the Art Students League of New York, Jenkins traveled to Italy and Spain, settling in Paris where his first solo exhibition took place in 1954 at Studio Paul Facchetti on the rue de Lille. Paul Facchetti, with the help of Alfonso Ossorio, held in 1952, an exhibition of the work of Jackson Pollock in his gallery, which was well known for showing works by abstract artists of the time, among others.
Jenkins’ first solo exhibition in the US took place in 1954 at the pioneering gallery of Zoe Dusanne in Seattle. His first solo exhibition in New
York was held in 1956 at the Martha Jackson Gallery, a leading gallery of the time. The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York purchased the painting “Divining Rod” from this exhibition. In the ’50s, Jenkins achieved prominence both in New York and Europe for his early abstractions. At the Gutai exhibition held at the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York in 1958, Jenkins is invited by Jiro Yoshihara to work with Gutai in Osaka; however, Jenkins waited until 1964 to implement this invitation.
From the artist’s studio in Paris in 1959, Peggy Guggenheim purchased “Osage,” a work on canvas, and continued to later purchase the artist’s work.
Jenkins continued to experiment with flowing paints, pouring pigment in streams of various thicknesses, with white linear overlays.
Jenkins, described as an abstract expressionist, would at times call himself “an abstract phenomenist.” His early works were made in oil on primed canvas, as he continued working on paper with ink and with watercolor. In 1959 and 1960, he explored the writings of Goethe and Kant. Influenced by Goethe’s color theories, he began to preface the titles of his works with the word “Phenomena” followed by a key word or phrase. Regarding his paintings, he once said, “I have conversations with them, and they tell me what they want to be called.”
Gradually in 1960 he moved away from working in oil on canvas to acrylic. Jenkins began to paint using an ivory knife, a key tool in the creation of his work:
I do not stain and I do not work on unprimed canvas. This is more significant than it may appear. Staining or working on un-primed canvas results in an inkblot-like effect where the paint penetrates the canvas and spreads out on its own. When I work on primed canvas, I can control the flow of paint and guide it to discover forms. The ivory knife is an essential tool in this because it does not gouge the canvas, it allows me to guide the paint.—Paul Jenkins, Artist Statement
The art historian Albert E. Elsen has noted: “Jenkins was not staining his canvas, because of the sizing and priming.”
Throughout the 60s, his work was shown worldwide, at major galleries and museums in Tokyo, London, New York, Paris, Amsterdam and elsewhere. In 1963, he took overWillem de Kooning’s light-infused loft at Union Square in New York City where he worked until the end of 2000.
In 1964, he traveled to Tokyo for his exhibition at the Tokyo Gallery and worked with Gutai in Osaka. Gutai works in Jenkins’ collection are
later shown in a 2009 exhibition curated by Ming Tiampo at the Pollock-Krasner House & Study Center in The Springs, East Hampton, then traveling to the The Harold B. Lemmerman Gallery, New Jersey City University. In 2010, this exhibition traveled to UB Anderson Gallery of the State University of New York Buffalo.
The Ivory Knife, a film by the Martha Jackson Gallery and Red Parrot, receives the Golden Eagle Award at the 1966 Venice Film Festival and is shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His play, Strike the Puma, is published by Editions Gonthier in 1966, and in 1968 is performed off Broadway in New York City.
During this time, Harry Abrams decides against including what the artist called his “black and white photo montages” in the forthcoming monograph then in preparation and published in 1973 with text by the late art historian Albert E. Elsen. Fragments of these autobiographical montages are later integrated into expanded collages that form Anatomy of a Cloud, published by Harry N. Abrams in 1983.
In 1968, Jenkins began the creation of a limited number of solid and unique sculptures in glass with Egidio Costantini in Murano. Several of these works were shown in the 2007 exhibition Viva Vetro! Glass Alive! Venice and America, 1950-2006.
Jenkins passed away in Manhattan, USA in 2012, one month prior to his 89th birthday, after an illness. The Strand Bookstore in Manhattan, which the artist loved to frequent over many years, devoted a window to him when they learned of his passing.
Partial biography is from wikipedia.
I was so drawn to today’s artist. His paintings are magnificent so naturally I didn’t want to attempt one. 🙂 I decided to overcome my doubt and just try it. I’m working with a much smaller canvas so I don’t feel like my paint had room to spread and move as his does. I researched a bit on his technique and it was still difficult to emulate. I did my best and I hope I captured his essence and style. I also had a conversation with the painting to get it’s name. I hope you enjoy it because I enjoyed creating it even if it didn’t turn out as lovely as his pieces. I will see you tomorrow on Day 167! Best, Linda