Detail of a work by Alfred Jensen using bright red, yellow and blue colors

Alfred Jensen

American, 1903-1981

Doric Order, 1962

Oil on canvas

54 x 54 inches

Signed, titled, inscribed and dated on the verso

Alfred Jensen was born in Guatemala and moved to Denmark as a child. He began drawing at a young age, and sharpened this skill working as a seaman on a ship where he sketched his fellow crew members’ portraits. Jensen’s unique multicultural upbringing laid the foundation for his wide-ranging interests that included religion, philosophy, science, mathematics, physics and astronomy.

After studying at the San Diego Fine Arts School, Jensen settled in New York in the early 1950s, arriving at a critical moment of development for American art. Although he was nearly the same age as the established Abstract Expressionist artists Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, and Willem de Kooning, Jensen was only on the brink of his mature style. His outsider status allowed him to develop his own personal and unique style that remained separate from other art movements.

Jensen was an intellectual, studying ancient Peruvian, Mayan, and Egyptian calendars and architecture; ancient Chinese and Greek mathematical and numerical systems; color theory; and physics and astronomy. Painted in 1962, Doric Order is a culmination of Jensen’s interests, its title referencing one of three ancient Greek and later Roman orders of architecture. In the tightly ordered, square canvas, Jensen painted his characteristic diagram of color and symbols, a variation of his checkerboard compositions. Thick impasto bands of vibrant color contain neatly rendered ancient numerical symbols that are squeezed directly onto the canvas. These symbols are intersected by three vertical bands of scroll-like flourishes that recall a Greek architectural device.

Detail of a work by Alfred Jensen using bright red, yellow and blue colors