Born in 1923 in New Jersey, United States, Shirley Jaffe worked and lived in Paris until her death, on September 29th, 2016.


Jaffe graduated from the Cooper Union School in New York (1945) and the Philips Art School in Washington (1949).


She moved to Paris where she lived until her death at the age of 93, leaving in 1949 the United States where she would still exhibit regularly. A close friend of Sam Francis, Joan Mitchell and James Bishop, Jaffe first came to be known in the art scene for her abstract expressionist work. She broke away from an expressionist abstract and gestual style in 1963-1964 after a residency in Berlin with the Ford Foundation, adopting instead a colourful, geometric style.


Considered one of the most influential painters in contemporary abstract art, she caught the attention of artists from younger generations, such as Shirley Kaneda and Bernard Piffaretti. She was also very well-respected from artists such as Jessica Stockholder and Claude Viallat.


After a state commission in 1999, she designed stained-glass windows for the chapel Funeraria of Perpignan in southern France. Her work is collected by many pres- tigious public and private collections, notably at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the MAC/VAL in Vitry, the Fondation Cartier for Contemporary Art in Paris, the Museum Berardo in Lisbon.


Galerie Nathalie Obadia has devoted four exhibitions to Shirley Jaffe, in 1999, 2001, 2008 and 2013. 


For more than 30 years, she was represented by the Jean Fournier Gallery. Later on, Galerie Greta Meert, Tibor de Nagy Gallery represented her work and she joined Nathalie Obadia Gallery in 1999 who presented 4 exhibitions of Shirley Jaffe, and initiated the monography edited by Flammarion Publishing in 2014, with a text by Raphael Rubinstein.