Pythagorean Abstract Alfred Jensen

Alfred Julio Jensen was an abstract painter. His paintings are often characterized by grids of brightly colored triangles, circles or squares, painted in thick impasto. Conveying a complex web of ideas, often incorporating calligraphy or numerical systems, they are frequently referred to as "concrete" abstract art.After his death in 1981, the Guggenheim organized a major retrospective of his work, having held his solo exhibition there in 1961.
Upon the death of Saidie May in 1951, Jensen settled in New York and began to focus exclusively on painting, out of his Lincoln Arcade studio. Here he first gained the attention of James Johnson Sweeney, Director of the Guggenheim Museum. His first solo exhibition of twelve canvases was held in 1952 at the John Heller Gallery,including portraits, still life, landscapes and figures in an abstract expressionist style, influenced by his studies of Goethe's color theory, with a palette of prismatic colors.Around this time, he began what would be long friendships with painter Mark Rothko and art critic Lil Picard. This was followed by his first solo show at the Tanager Gallery in 1955, the same year he began to exchange ideas with Sam Francis.In 1957, he started to incorporate checkerboards in his prismatic colored murals, and in diagrams and paintings on paper. He also began to investigate his compositional logic, including calligraphy, and became extremely prolific. Henry Luce III, son of the founder of Time Magazine, first collected his work, eventually commissioning a mural for the Time/Life building in Paris in 1959.






Around 1960 he read Maya Hieroglyphic Writing, by J. Eric S. Thompson, which linked to his childhood in Guatemala, and would prove to be a theme in much of his subsequent work. In 1961 he was the subject of a major solo show at the Guggenheim Museum, and his work was included in important group and solo exhibitions in the United States, Switzerland and Germany. By 1963, his work begins "superimposing figurative elements of prismatic colors on checkerboards of black and white or, reversely, figurative elements in black and white against a prismatic colored checkerboard."






For much of the mid to late 1960s, he travels nearly continuously, notably becoming inspired by ancient Greek architecture, resulting in A Pythagorean Notebook, incorporating Pythagorean number series on top of grid structures, and developed an interest in astronomy, physics and Chinese history (notably I Ching) - all of which would influence his next several years of work. Beginning with the Pythagorean lithographs, he was one of a number of artists in the 1960s working with serial images.
By the mid 1970s, he became interested in ancient number systems, magnetism and planetary effects on seasons, which became themes of his subsequent paintings.Wikipedia





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