Kansas City, 1923 – Manhattan, 2012
Paul Jenkins was born in Kansas City, Missouri on July 12, 1923. In 1948 he moved to New York where he studied for four years at the Art Students League. During this time, he met Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, and Barnett Newman.
In 1953, he traveled to Europe, working for three months in Taormina before settling in Paris, where in 1954 he held his first solo exhibition at the Studio Facchetti in rue de Lille. From 1955 onwards, the artist divides his time between New York and Paris. In 1956 his first solo exhibition was held at the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York and on that occasion, the Whitney Museum of American Art bought one of his paintings. In the Fifties, Jenkins began to have a certain popularity both in the United States and in Europe for his first abstractions. In 1958 at the Gutai exhibition held at the Martha Jackson Gallery, Jenkins was invited by Jiro Yoshihara to work with the Gutai group in Osaka; however, Jenkins waited until 1964 for the implementation of this call.
His works are characterized by large overlapping color dyes, often using primary colors, which create vitreous glazes, transparency effects and translucent visions. Jenkins has been described as an abstract expressionist, or better described by himself as an “abstract phenomenist”. His first works were made in oil on emulsified canvas, while he continued to work on paper with ink and watercolor. Influenced by Goethe’s color theories, he began to precede the titles of his works with the term “Phenomena” followed by a “key” word or phrase. Gradually in 1960 he moved from working in oil on canvas to acrylic.
Considered to be one of the most important abstract artists, his works are present in the collections of major museums in the world, including: the Tate Gallery in London; the Whitney Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York; the Center Georges Pompidou and the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris; the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo.