Paul Jenkins

Paul Jenkins (1923 – 2012, USA) was an American painter associated with Abstract Expressionism. In 1948, he moved to New York and attended the Art Students League, where he met Mark Rothko, Jean Dubuffet, Jackson Pollock, and Willem de Kooning. Jenkins was inspired by the “cataclysmic challenge of Pollock and the total metaphysical consumption of Mark Tobey”.

Jenkins’ paintings have come to represent the spirit, vitality, and invention of post-World War II American abstraction. Employing an unorthodox approach to paint application, he used the process of controlled paint-pouring and canvas manipulation, as with the gem-like veils of transparent and translucent colours, which are characteristics of his work since the late 1950s. Jenkins’s innovative practice was characterized by his choice to avoid the paintbrush altogether, instead allowing pigment to pool, bloom, or roll across the surface of his canvases, guiding the paint with a knife to create fluid fields of colour. The artist’s intuitive, chance-based painting techniques helped pioneer new approaches to Abstract Expressionism.

In his youth, Jenkins worked at a ceramics factory, an experience that heavily influenced his tactile painting methods. He studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and the Art Students League in New York with Yasuo Kuniyoshi. In addition, from the 1960s on, all his paintings’ titles began with the word Phenomena. Jenkins travelled throughout Europe, including Sicily, Spain and France, which would become a second home to the artist throughout his life.

Selected Exhibitions

Paul Jenkins: Works on Canvas from the Nineties and Noughties, Ronchini Gallery, London (2022); Cast of Shadows, The Redfern Gallery, London (2020); Local Color, The San Jose Museum of Art, California (2012); Paul Jenkins, The Redfern Gallery, London (2011); Paul Jenkins, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento (2010); Paul Jenkins in the 1960s and 1970s: Space, Colour and Light, D. Wigmore Fine Art, New York (2009); Paul Jenkins, The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Jacksonville (2009); and Paul Jenkins, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. (2009).

Selected Collections

MoMA, New York;  Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington; Tate Modern, London; and Centre Pompidou, Paris.

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