Hommage à Shirley Jaffe: Carole Benzaken, Pierre Buraglio, Shirley Jaffe, Robert Kushner, Bernard Piffaretti, Fiona Rae, Jessica Stockholder & Claude Viallat

17 May - 29 July 2022 Cloître Saint-Merri I & II - Paris

Galerie Nathalie Obadia is delighted to present Homage to Shirley Jaffe. This exhibition echoes her retrospective, titled Shirley Jaffe, Une Américaine à Paris, which is taking place at the Centre Pompidou from April 20 to August 29, 2022; will then travel to the Kunstmuseum in Basel (March 25 to July 30, 2023); and finish its journey at the Musée Matisse in Nice (October 11, 2023 to January 8, 2024).

Homage to Shirley Jaffe presents a group of works on paper by Shirley Jaffe, alongside works by Carole Benzaken, Pierre Buraglio, Robert Kushner, Bernard Piffaretti, Fiona Rae, Jessica Stockholder and Claude Viallat. The exhibition intends to celebrate the dynamic friendship that linked Shirley Jaffe to these artists - sometimes over several decades, proof of the influence that her work had on younger generations. Upon her death in 2016, Shirley Jaffe left behind her a body of work that made a lasting impression on artists who continue, today, to appreciate her meticulous compositions, her intuitively colored palette, the coherence of her subject matter and the rigor of a life obstinately dedicated to painting.

During her last year of studies at the Beaux-Arts in Paris, Carole Benzaken met Shirley Jaffe, who had been invited to participate in a series of round tables. The artist's liberated tone coupled with her extreme rigorousness made an impact on the young student: a dialog between these two women from different generations began. Thanks to Carole Benzaken, who put Galerie Nathalie Obadia in touch with Shirley Jaffe, 1999 marked the beginning of an intense period of collaboration.

While Pierre Buraglio met Shirley Jaffe at Galerie Jean Fournier, the artist's kindness toward him soon extended beyond the context of the gallery and into a more intimate sphere, and their frequent visits were the breeding ground for their prolific conversation. «What she appreciated in my work, was, I'm sure, the undeniable silence, the modesty of the means I used [...],» writes Pierre Buraglio, as is evidenced in Fenêtres, 1988-2009 and 1990-2014.

Deeply moved by a work he'd seen in 1976, it was not until 1982 that Bernard Piffaretti met Shirley Jaffe, also through Jean Fournier. Between them, there was a friendly complicity, which was also fed by their shared considerations on questions relating to painting. The works Sans Titres, 1989 and 2002, attest to this lasting and reciprocated respect.

Robert Kushner met Shirley Jaffe in New York, in 1975. They carried on a fruitful transatlantic conversation, which led to them collaborating at Holly Solomon Gallery, a major proponent of Pattern & Decoration, of which Kushner was one of the founding members. While Shirley Jaffe's paintings were not related to this movement, the latter certainly counts among her most devoted supporters in the United States - due to their friendship and to Robert Kushner's very high esteem for her work.

Shirley Jaffe's intractability and discipline were well respected, and Fiona Rae approached her work from the perspective of painting. The «proposal and resolution of visual problems»; the allusions, ruptures and obstacles; the tension; a balance that is continually questioned: everything seems to point to perfect command, which was not her intention. Rather, Shirley Jaffe suggests «a nascent reality,» a preoccupation that also espouses painter Fiona Rae's considerations, in Untitled (orange, purple and green), 1995, and Rodeo, 2001.

While she truly admired the quality of Shirley Jaffe's constantly renewed compositions, flat graphic shapes and illusions of space, Jessica Stockholder was especially impressed by «her exploration of the relationship between painting and writing,» where she sees «a dialogue through her use of line and plane.» The work #879 Carpet/ rug Kathmandu, 2020, suggests a reflection on representation and the materiality of weaving, especially in the way light touches the artwork's body differently from every angle.

An unwavering friendship linked Shirley Jaffe and Claude Viallat - founder of the Supports/Surfaces movement, present here with Sans titre n°101, 2020. The formal radicality that is at work in their respective explorations and the constant integrity that characterized their artistic proposals determined the high regard in which they held each other for over 50 years.


Homage to Shirley Jaffe has been curated by Maimiti Cazalis, Executive Director at Galerie Nathalie Obadia.


The exhibition Shirley Jaffe, Une Américaine à Paris is accompanied by a catalog published by Bernard Chauveau Édition in co-publication with the Centre Pompidou, bringing together texts by Svetlana Alpers, Claudine Grammont and Frédéric Paul as well as an unpublished interview by Robert Kushner.


After the three volumes devoted respectively to Martin Barré, Simon Hantaï and James Bishop, ER Publishing has published Transatlantique - Shirley Jaffe bringing together, according to the collection's formula, essays and testimonies by Polly Apfelbaum, Pierre Buraglio, Alain Clément, Shirley Kaneda, Robert Kushner, Marielle Paul, Hugo Pernet, Bernard Pifaretti and Fiona Rae.