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Paul Jenkins papers, circa 1915-2010

Biographical Note

Paul Jenkins (1923-2012) was an abstract expressionist painter and playwright in New York, New York, and Paris, France. Jenkins was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1923, and moved to Youngstown, Ohio as a teenager. After serving in the U.S. Maritime Service and the U.S. Naval Air Corps, Jenkins studied playwriting with George McCalmon at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University). In 1948, he moved to New York City, where he studied with Yasuo Kuniyoshi at the Art Students League of New York.
Over the course of his career, Jenkins experimented with multiple techniques, including oil on primed canvas, flowing paints, acrylics, watercolor, and mixed media collages. After traveling extensively and meeting many artists, Jenkins ultimately became associated with the Abstract Expressionists. His work gained the attention of other members of the art world and he held solo exhibitions at venues such as the Zoe Dusanne Gallery in Seattle and the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York. Jenkins' paintings were purchased by both museums and private collectors, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Peggy Guggenheim.
In addition to his painting, Jenkins continued to explore other creative endeavors. He experimented with sculpture, producing works for events and permanent displays, including the Sculptors' Symposium at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum and the Sculpture Garden of the Hofstra Museum. His plays, such as Strike the Puma, were published and performed off Broadway in New York City. Jenkins's art served as the backdrop for multiple stage productions, and in 1978, his paintings were featured in the Academy Award nominated movie An Unmarried Woman. Jenkins also collaborated on a number of book projects, including Anatomy of a Cloud, a collection of autobiographical collages and texts.
Throughout his adult life, Jenkins split most of his time between New York and Paris. He continued to create and exhibit new works until his death in New York in 2012.