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* 11.12.1903 Guatemala-City, † 4.4.1981 Livingston

Alfred Julio Jensen was born in Guatemala-city in 1903, the son of a Dane and a German-Polish mother. After the death of his mother, the 7 years old Alfred was sent with his siblings to live with an uncle in Denmark where he attended primary school. After finishing school, he got work on a ship and began to travel the world, firstly to Malaysia and Australia. After the death of his father in 1922, he bought a farm in Guatemala with his brother, which, however, did not do well. With the money from the sale of the farm, Jensen moved to San Diego, where he received a scholarship for the San Diego Fine Arts School. In 1926 he travelled to Munich, in order to study at the school of Hans Hofmann, whose teaching he quickly found restrictive, however, and preferred to copy Dürer and Brueghel in the Alte Pinakothek.

While away for the summer he met the art collector Saidie Adler May, who supported him in his studies. They first went to Paris, where Alfred Jensen began his studies at the Académie scandinave. In the coming years he and May travelled the world, Jensen advising her on how to build up her art collection, and in 1938 they finally settled in New York. The death of May in 1951 led Jensen, already at an advanced age, to dedicate himself exclusively to his art. He moved into his own studio and took part in an exhibition at the John Heller Gallery for the first time in 1953. Further group shows followed and he made the acquaintance of Mark Rothko and Sam Francis. In 1958 the then director of the Basel Kunstmuseum, Arnold Rüdlinger purchased the first of Jensen’s paintings for the Swiss collectors’ group "La Peau de l’Ours". Alfred Jensen was then increasingly invited to exhibit in Switzerland, and in 1962 he began a long and successful collaboration with Eberhard Kornfeld. Alongside numerous thematic group shows, he was invited to documenta 3 in 1964 and he participated on two further occasions. In 1977 he took part in the Biennial Exhibition: Contemporary American Art at the Whitney Museum and in the same year represented the USA at the XIV. Biennale in Sao Paulo. In 1978 the Albright-Knox Art Gallery organised a retrospective of his work which toured other museums. Alfred Julio Jensen died in 1981. In 1985 the Guggenheim Museum mounted a comprehensive retrospective of his work.

Works from our auctions

Works by this artist from our auctions

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Lot 3475 - A189 PostWar & Contemporary - Saturday 29 June 2019, 02.00 PM


(Guatemala City 1903–1981 Livingston)
Temple of Numbers at Paestum. 1961.
Oil on canvas.
Signed, titled, dated and with the measurements on the reverse: Title: Tempel of Numbers at Paestum Size 74" x 54" painted by Alfred Jensen in 1961.
186.5 x 136.5 cm.

CHF 90 000 / 140 000 | (€ 92 780 / 144 330)

Sold for CHF 70 000 (including buyer’s premium)
All information is subject to change.

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Lot 3406 - A201 PostWar & Contemporary - Thursday 30 June 2022, 05.00 PM


(Guatemala City 1903–1981 Livingston)
Chromatic Circle (Hommage à Goethe). 1957.
Oil and Indian Ink on board.
Signed and dated lower right: Al Jensen May 9 - 1957. Signed, titled and dated on the reverse: alfred Jensen Aug 9 1957 Yellow for the earth.
77 × 56 cm. Professionally restored.

CHF 15 000 / 25 000 | (€ 15 460 / 25 770)

Sold for CHF 18 600 (including buyer’s premium)
All information is subject to change.

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