Home Arts A homecoming for abstract expressionist Shirley Jaffe at Tefaf New York

A homecoming for abstract expressionist Shirley Jaffe at Tefaf New York

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A traveling retrospective of Shirley Jaffe’s paintings has been touring Europe since last year. The tour of this second generation of Abstract Expressionists began in Paris, Jaffe’s adopted city from 1949 until his death in 2016, at the Center Pompidou (the largest institutional holder of his work). The show is now presented at Kunstmuseum Basel and will open at the Matisse Museum in Nice later this year.

However, the American-born Jaffe has yet to see that kind of institutional spotlight in her home country. Today, the Nathalie Obadia Gallery is exhibiting on its stand at Tefaf New York (May 11-16). This homecoming for the painter, who grew up in Brighton Beach and studied at the Cooper Union, is part of an effort to place more of her works in American museums.

“Since the 2000s, European museums have been interested in her work and today American collectors and museums want to show this singular painter,” explains Nathalie Obadia, who has represented Jaffe since 1999. quality paintings in American museums. Jaffe’s work first entered a French public collection in 1969, and in 1985 the National Museum of Modern Art began to acquire his work. She is already represented in American collections such as the Museum of Modern Art and the SFMoMA, but European museums have increasingly acquired her work recently (including the Kunstmuseum Basel, the National Gallery of Ireland, the Museum of Fine Arts Nantes and the Museum of Fine Arts). of Lyon) and Obadia and hopes to extend this dynamic across the Atlantic.

Shirley Jaffe, Untitled1965 Image Bertrand Huet / Tutti. © ADAGP, 2023. Courtesy of Shirley Jaffe Estate and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris / Brussels

Jaffe’s early paintings in New York and during her early years in Paris were gestural, but in the early 1960s (a period when she went to West Berlin on a Ford Foundation scholarship) she turned towards the biomorphic and geometric forms for which it is better. known. By 1968, she had completely abandoned the gesture and instead used flat, muted colors. Her distinctive style came into force a few years later, when she began to render geometric shapes with sharp outlines.

The two canvases that Obadia exhibits at Tefaf date from Jaffe’s departure from Berlin and his permanent installation in Paris. “She chose to stay in Europe and approach Abstract Expressionism with European influences closer to Kandinsky,” says Obadia. “[Jaffe] made the choice to leave the USA in the late 1940s, and the 1950s [were] very marked by the choices of art critics Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg, who left little room for American women painters.

Jaffe sometimes considered returning to his native New York, but ultimately chose Paris. It was not until she reached her sixties that her work began to be exhibited in the United States, first with a solo exhibition at New York’s Artists Space in 1989, followed by two solo exhibitions at the Holly Solomon Gallery. in the early 1990s.

In addition to his exhibit at Tefaf, Jaffe will be included in next year’s group show at New York University’s Gray Art Gallery, Americans in Paris: Artists Working in Postwar France (1946-1962).

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