Phenomena Right Beckons, 2008
b. 1923, Kansas City, Missouri
d. 2012, New York, New York
Paul Jenkins was an American abstract painter whose career straddled the Atlantic in both inspiration and influence. Growing up in Kansas City, Jenkins made the acquaintance of Thomas Hart Benton and Frank Lloyd Wright. On the weekends, he worked at a local ceramics factory and later, he derived great inspiration from memories of how the materials and color were handled. In the 1940s, following the end of the war, Jenkins took advantage of his G.I. Bill and enrolled at the Art Students League in New York. During this time, Jenkins met Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko and other Abstract Expressionists. In 1953, Jenkins moved to Paris. He found he had a stronger following in Europe, and for the remainder of his career he would split his time between the two cities.
The influence of Odilon Redon and Gustave Moreau plays heavily in Jenkins’s work from his early time in Paris. Jenkins also became fascinated by Jungian theory, referring to himself as an “abstract phenomenist.” His first solo exhibition was held at Studio Paul Facchetti in Paris, in 1959, and two years later he received his first stateside solo show at Martha Jackson’s gallery in New York. In 1971, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts produced Jenkins’s first retrospective, curated by Philippe de Montebello, which later traveled to San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art. Experimenting with a range of paints, Jenkins was always fond of watercolors, a medium he used more frequently towards the end of this life.
Jenkins’s work can be found in collections around the world, including those of the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.; the Tate, London; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Museum of Western Art, Tokyo; and, the National Museum of Art, Osaka.