Shirley Jaffe at the Pompidou Center

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Shirley Jaffe, Une américaine à Paris ” honors this major figure in contemporary painting at the Center Pompidou in Paris.

An unprecedented exhibition

The exhibition “Shirley Jaffe, an American in Paris”, at the Center Pompidou, is the first retrospective of the work of this emblematic artist of pictorial abstraction at the turn of the 20th century. The itinerary of the exhibition traces chronologically that of Shirley Jaffe, an American who settled in Paris at the end of the 1940s and produced all of her work there, until her death in 2016. We discover first of all paintings that are part of the current of abstract expressionism, of which the Cooper Union in New York, where Shirley Jaffe studied fine arts, was a breeding ground. These multicolored but muted tones of mustard yellow, royal blue and old pink are marked by gesture. On her death in 2016, the American painter Shirley Jaffe left a very rich abstract work, of which a significant set, paid by donation to the French State, was received by the National Museum of Modern Art in 2019. This unprecedented exhibition shows the way in which the artist had to give up gestures in order to bring ever greater tension to his artistic experience.

Settled in Paris in 1949

The chronological display occasionally orchestrates vis-à-vis between works from different periods. Valuable studio notes recorded by the artist for each of his paintings are presented in the display case with archival material collected in the studio. Born in 1923 in New Jersey, Shirley Jaffe studied at Cooper Union in New York, which she left for Paris, where she settled in 1949. Close to Jules Olitski, Norman Bluhm, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Sam Francis, she passes for a major painter of the new abstraction. Linked later to Kimber Smith, Jack Youngerman, Al Held, she sublet the studio of Louise Bourgeois in the same street as Joan Mitchell. In 1969, she moved to the 5th arrondissement, rue Saint-Victor – a studio that she never left, and where she painted until the last minute. In the 1960s, she turned her back on promising beginnings in the spirit of Abstract Expressionism. We had to wait until the 1970s to see the development of her personal writing with chiseled contours which, without making it possible to assimilate her to the then declining Hard Edge wave, kept her at an equal and respectful distance from her former expressionist peers and supporters of the concrete art.

Shirley Jaffe, Une Américaine à Paris

April 20 – August 29, 2022 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., daily except Tuesdays

Centre Pompidou

Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris

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