Jens Jensen (1898 - 1978) came to the United States from Denmark in 1927. After arriving in Cincinnati, he joined the Rookwood Pottery Company and soon became known as the company's modernist. In 1931, he married fellow Rookwood artist Elizabeth Barrett (1903-1987). Jensen and Barrett moved to Ripley, Ohio when Rookwood closed in 1948. Over the next thirty years, Jensen created an impressive body of paintings that are now in prestigious public and private collections all over the world. This exhibition provides a candid insight into the images and themes Jensen revered and includes some paintings that have not been seen by the public.
Jensen was a shy man, yet he also had a rather volatile personality. The need to create consumed him, and he often painted on rocks and scraps of newsprint when paper and canvas were not available. Jensen's subjects range from nudes, animals, and flowers to abstract patterns. He also created many striking portraits of women who are usually depicted with dark hair and large eyes. His paintings are characterized by bright colors and thick black outlines, lending a somewhat abstract and segmented quality to even his representational work. Jensen was aware of and inspired by the artists and artistic movements of his time. His work shows strong influence from Modigliani, Picasso, and Rouault. Though Jensen absorbed many techniques from these artists, his work reflects a combination of Scandinavian, central and southern European, and American artistic traditions that is all his own.