Pop Artist Pat Jensen (1929-2009)
By Jackie Sideli
Deep River, CT- Pop Artist Pat Jensen passed away in July at a nursing home in Deep River, CT. Jensen was part of the wave of “Photo Realism or New Realism”- a group of illustrious artists , changing the way the art world looked at painting ,which included Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. Self taught, he was with the rodeo before he decided to try his luck as a painter.
He exhibited at Leo Castelli Gallery, NYC, Ivan Karp at OK Harris, and had a one man show at the OK Harris, Provincetown, MA. He also showed at the Krasner Gallery, NYC, Reese Palley, New York and Amel Gallery. He exhibited at the Allbright Knox , Buffalo, New York . In 1963 , he was listed in Who’s Who in American Art. He also exhibited at the Sakowitz Gallery, Houston, TX , The Chapel Street Gallery in New Haven, CT. A New York Times article, dated August 4, 1996 stated that Jensen had “ a flourishing career as a Pop Artist in the 1960’s”.
The exhibition catalog from the show at the Nelson Gallery- Atkins Museum, Kansas City , Missouri in 1963 stated that “ A welcome relief… is to be found in the paintings of Pat Jensen, with their visions of staring science fiction astronauts, blankly pre-occupied motorcycle racers….Jensen has found an idiom of his own which would seem to bear watching.”
In a recent interview , Jensen states“ About 1962, I was going to see Alan Stone from the Alan Stone Gallery in NYC who said “ I don‘t think you work for me, go and see Castelli.” A visit to Ivan Karp, who was managing Castelli then, who told Jensen to ‘keep painting". According to Jensen ’ Life as a 1960’s Pop Artist, at a time when the entire art scene was shifting, was challenging and very exciting- ’you never knew where you stood.’ ’A lot of collectors were interested in the Pop Art’ said Jensen. Harry Abrams of New York City, Doctor and Mrs Robert Mellen and Ivan Karp were among the many people who bought Jensen’s work.
An October 19, 1964 article in Sports Illustrated Magazine featured a number of images of well known sports heroes of the time, painted by Jensen. Said Jensen "The New York Giants are the only team I ever watch," ostentatiously turning away from a telecast of the World Series last week. "All I care about is football." Which explains why baseball fans might find it hard to recognize the likeness of Mickey Mantle among the pop portraits currently on show at Manhattan's Amel Gallery. Giant Y. A. Tittle was easy to spot, of course, even though he looked a bit worried about his team's future. But why was Willie Shoemaker so recognizable? Could be that football fan Jensen gets out to the Big A once in a while, after all.”
Until his death early in 2009, Jensen lived in relative obscurity for several decades, with just his paintings and his cat to keep him company.