Shirley Jaffe - Geometric abstraction

Shirley Jaffe (née Sternstein, October 2, 1923 – September 29, 2016) was an American abstract painter. Her early work is of the gestural abstract expressionist style, however in the late 1960s she changed to a more geometric style. This change was initially received with caution by the art world, but later in her career she was praised for the «idiosyncratic» and individual nature of her work She spent most of her life living and working in France.Jaffe began as an abstract expressionist, using gesture in her painting in a similar way to Joan Mitchell.In 1968, however, a grant from the Ford Foundation funded her to spend a year in Berlin. This study break took her away from the circle of artist friends she had developed in Paris and exposed her to new influences such as the music of contemporary composers Iannis Xenakis and Karlheinz Stockhausen. It may also have reunited her thinking with the European abstraction of Jean Arp, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Wassily Kandinsky and Auguste Herbin. «It [my style of painting] changed when I went to Berlin,» Jaffe said later. «I had a feeling that my paintings were being read as landscapes, which was not my intention. I felt I had to clear out the woods.»Stained glass windows designed by Jaffe for the Chapelle La Funeraria, Perpignan.Jaffe's new style featured flat, uninflected surfaces, single-colour shapes and predominantly straight, rather than curved, lines. On her return to Paris, both her dealer Fournier and her artist friends were «shocked» at the change; however, Fournier continued to exhibit her work in his gallery. Later analyses of her work note that Jaffe's style moved in a «different direction» from other painters of her time, and was characterised by «an incredible vitality of form and complexity».The evolution of her style, which happened gradually over a period of decades, was described by critics as an «internal development» apparently unrelated to contemporary trends, and therefore she could not be seen as a part of any particular art movement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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