Skip to main content

Shirley Jaffe papers, circa 1950-2011

Shirley Jaffe papers, circa 1950-2011

Jaffe, Shirley, 1923-

Sculptor, Painter

Collection Information

Size: 7.1 linear feet

Summary: The papers of artist Shirley Jaffe measure 7.1 linear feet and date from circa 1950-2011. The collection documents her life and career as an American painter living in Paris through biographical material, letters, notebooks, writings, project files, printed material, photographic material, and sketchbooks.

Biographical/Historical Note

Shirley Jaffe (1923-2016), née Sternstein, was an American painter living a working in Paris.

Provenance

The Shirley Jaffe papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Shirley Jaffe in 2014.

Related Materials

A Finding Aid to the Shirley Jaffe Papers, circa 1950-2011, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.jaffshir
Author
Finding aid prepared by Hilary Price
Biographical/Historical note
Shirley Jaffe (1923-2016), née Sternstein, was an American painter living and working in Paris.
Born in New Jersey and raised in Brooklyn, Shirley Jaffe completed her studies at the Cooper Union in 1945. In 1949 she and husband Irving Jaffe moved to Washington, D.C. where she attended the Phillips Art School. Later that same year, they moved to Paris. The Jaffes returned to New York briefly in the early 1950s, but moved back to Paris in 1953, where Shirley Jaffe has been living and working ever since. She was married to Irving Jaffe until 1962.
Jaffe started her career as an abstract expressionist but began to work in a flat and geometric style in the late 1960s. She was part of the American expatriate art scene in Paris and associated with Joan Mitchell, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Sam Francis, Kimber Smith, and others. In 1963, Jaffe received a grant from the Ford Foundation to spend a year working in Berlin.
Jaffe took on several commissions in France including illustrations, murals, and notably, the design of stained glass windows in the Chapelle Saint-Jean-l’Evangéliste in Perpignan, titled
Funéraria
. Her paintings have been exhibited in New York at the Holly Solomon Gallery and the Tibor de Nagy Gallery, and at galleries and museums throughout France.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as 7 series
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1950s-2000s (0.3 linear feet; Box 1)
Series 2: Letters, 1950s-2000s (3 linear feet; Box 1-4)
Series 3: Notebooks and Writings, 1950s-2000s (0.9 linear feet; Box 4-5)
Series 4: Project Files, 1970s-2003 (0.6 linear feet; Box 5, 9)
Series 5: Printed Material, 1952-2011 (0.7 linear feet; Box 5-6, 9)
Series 6: Photographic Material, 1950s-circa 2010 (1.3 linear feet; Box 6-8)
Series 7: Sketchbooks, 1960s-2000s (0.3 linear feet; Box 8)
Scope and Contents note
The papers of artist Shirley Jaffe measure 7.1 linear feet and date from circa 1950-2011. The collection documents her life and career as an American painter living in Paris through biographical material, letters, notebooks, writings, project files, printed material, photographic material, and sketchbooks.
Scattered biographical materials include address and appointment books, an interview with Jaffe by Jeff Perkins recorded on one videocassette, and other documents.
Letters make up a significant portion of the collection and are primarily written to Shirley from friends and family. In addition to frequent letters received from her siblings and mother, Jaffe also received letters from artists Joan Mitchell, Sam Francis, Kimber Smith, Sylvia Stone and Al Held, Hermine Ford, Robert Kushner, and George Sugarman.
The papers include eighty-four notebooks kept by Jaffe containing lists, addresses, notes, sketches and the occasional diary entry. Project files contain correspondence, gouache studies, sketches, and printed material related to commissions and collaborations, including illustrations, murals, and the design of stained glass windows in the Chapelle Saint-Jean-l’Evangéliste in Perpignan, titled
Funéraria
.
Printed materials include articles, published books about Jaffe, clippings, exhibition catalogs, a recorded radio broadcast, and reviews.
There are photographs, slides, transparencies, and one electronic disc (CD) of digital photographs depicting Jaffe’s paintings, exhibitions, and artists and art world figures including Larry Rivers, Kimber Smith, Linda Nochlin, Sam Francis, Paul Jenkins, and Joan Mitchell at exhibition openings in the 1960s-1970s. Eight sketchbooks contain drawings by Jaffe in ink, marker, and pen.
Provenance
The Shirley Jaffe papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Shirley Jaffe in 2014.
Related Archival Materials note
Also found in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Shirley Jaffe conducted by Avis Berman, September 27-28, 2010.
Processing Information note
The collection was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared by Hilary Price in 2015.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.

How to Cite This Collection

Shirley Jaffe papers, circa 1950-2011. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

  • No downloads available