Frieze Masters Spotlight: Jess

Anglim Gilbert Gallery is pleased to present works by San Francisco artist Jess (1923-2004) as part of the Spotlight Series for Frieze Masters, London. Before pursuing his artistic career, Jess Collins (known simply as “Jess” having dropped his family name after the second World War) was trained as a scientist. In 1943 he was drafted into the army where he was assigned to the Manhattan Project, to develop plutonium for the atomic bomb which, over time, weighed heavily on his conscience. His eventual awakening to this dangerous direction of scientific  research led him to leave such activity and devote his energies to art. Already drawing and keenly engrossed in literature, particularly James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, he finished his degree in Chemistry at Caltech in 1948 before moving to San Francisco to study under Clyfford Still, David Park and other painters of the California School of Fine Arts. Jess’ personal re-invention brought with it a fresh, unconventional approach to the artist’s practice and as a result his engagement brought with it a fresh, almost visionary approach; painting, drawing, sculpture and collage each took on untraditional hybrid formats. Jess met poet Robert Duncan in 1950 who was his companion until Duncan’s death in 1988. Together, a very personal, collaborative mythology in poetry and images ensued (combining a synthesis of Greco-Roman tradition and fairytale fantasies they both favored.)  Alongside the influence of Duncan, Jess’ works interwove themes of social and political critique, mythology and the occult, and male eroticism.

Source: Frieze Masters Spotlight: Jess