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Bill Jensen

The Phillips Collection

This ambitious exhibition provided not only a partial retrospective of Bill Jensen’s work but also a chance to consider it in the context of related paintings from the Phillips Collection. These other works—abstractions based on organic forms or landscapes, by such pioneer American Modernists as Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, and Albert Pink-ham Ryder—were chosen specifically to complement Jensen’s show and were shown in two galleries adjacent to the exhibition.

Jensen himself has acknowledged the links between his paintings and those of the earlier artists—for example, in the title of a work from 1978–79, Ryder’s Eye. The similarities between the two groups of work can be striking. Jensen’s use of vertiginous space and simple, dramatic shapes, in such paintings as Joy, 1976, and Mussels, 1977–78, recalls O’Keeffe’s use of similar devices in her massive close-ups of flowers

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