Shirley Jaffe


Speaking to critic Raphael Rubinstein, American abstract painter Shirley Jaffe likened her work to a “general congestion of events.” Her suggestion of a visual traffic jam is handsomely borne out in a selection of nineteen works on paper currently on view in New York. Jaffe’s paintings on paper are softer-edged than her canvases and appear more spontaneous and open-ended. An assortment of green, blue, orange, red, and yellow geometric forms hover above a white background, recalling the palette and spirit of Matisse cutouts along with the early Cubist explorations of Stuart Davis. Jaffe (b. 1923) has lived in Paris since 1949, and appears to have absorbed lessons from modernists on both sides of the Atlantic. A devout abstractionist, Jaffe’s works are unconcerned with the illusion of spatial depth. Her works on paper are flat and seem very much a part of our present-day understanding of a flat vision caused by the omnipresence of screens, both large and small. —Lindsay Pollock


Pictured: Shirley Jaffe: Untitled #30, n.d., gouache on paper, 26 by 19¾ inches. Courtesy Tibor de Nagy, New York.