A painter and printmaker associated with the abstract expressionists during the 1950s, Alfred Jensen is noted for his compositions featuring optical patterns such as checkerboards. The artist was born 11 December 1903 in Guatemala to European parents. He studied at the San Diego Fine Arts School in 1925 and later with Hans Hofmann in Germany. Eventually, he settled in New York City.
Jensen used much of his art to express thought systems and philosophy. Typically his compositions are boldly colored, symmetrical abstractions that allude to mathematical formulas. Despite the clarity of form, the images are visually ambiguous, lending an overtone of mystery. The Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art have included Jensen's work in their collections. He died 4 April 1981 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey.
[This is an excerpt from the interactive companion program to the videodisc American Art from the National Gallery of Art. Produced by the Department of Education Resources, this teaching resource is one of the Gallery's free-loan educational programs.]