The Tibor de Nagy Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of paintings by the celebrated painter and collage artist Jess (Collins), a leading light of the San Francisco art scene from the 1950s until his death in 2004. Jess remains among the most original artists of the second half of the 20th century. This marks the gallery’s third solo exhibition of the artist’s work, and the first devoted exclusively to his paintings.
The exhibition will comprise rarely-seen works gathered from the Jess Collins Estate as well as several private collections in California and New York. The paintings were completed during the 1950s and 1960s, with the exception of his “last painting,” which the artist had worked on many years before but was only finished in 1990. The subject matter ranges from thickly painted mythic landscapes to enigmatic, personal portraits.
Jess studied painting at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute). His teachers included some of the most influential West coast painters of the period, including David Park, Elmer Bischoff, and Clyfford Still. During this time, Jess met poet Robert Duncan, who would become his lifelong partner, and frequent collaborator. They were an influential force in the San Francisco artistic community, bringing together painters and poets, organizing exhibitions and readings.
Jess’s work became known to a broader public after his work was included in a number of influential museum exhibitions including in 1961 “The Art of Assemblage” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, “Pop Art U.S.A.” at the Oakland Art Museum in 1963, and “American Collages,” a traveling exhibition that was organized and presented at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, in 1965.
His work was featured in a number of prestigious museum group exhibitions throughout the 1960s and 1980s, including exhibitions at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, The Art Institute of Chicago, and The Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1993-1994 a comprehensive survey of the artist’s work traveled to the Albright Knox Art Gallery, Walker Art Center, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Whitney.
An exhibition catalogue with an essay by John Yau is available.