Paul Jenkins was an American abstract artist often associated with the New York School. With a chance-based, intuitive approach to painting, Jenkins worked with oil paints and acrylics, often avoiding paintbrushes and instead allowing paint to pool or roll across his canvases, guiding it with an ivory knife to create fields of fluid color. 


William Paul Jenkins was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1923. In his teenage years, Jenkins worked at a ceramics factory on the weekends, where he was inspired by watching how the master mold-maker handled color, form, and shape.

During World War II, Jenkins entered the U.S. Naval Air Corps. He enrolled at the Art Students League of New York on the G.I. Bill after moving to New York City in 1948. During that time, Jenkins studied with Morris Kantor and Yasuo Kuniyoshi, and met Barnett Newman, Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko. 

Paul Jenkins traveled to Europe in 1953, where he worked for a brief period in Taormina in Sicily. After that, he decided to settle in Paris, France. His debut solo exhibition took place in Paris at Studio Paul Facchetti on the rue de Lille in 1954. Paul’s first U.S. solo exhibition took place in 1954 in Seattle at the gallery of Zoe Dusanne followed in 1956 by a solo exhibition in New York at the Martha Jackson Gallery. Major museums and collectors began purchasing his work, which experimented with dripping, flowing paints.

Jenkins gradually moved away from oil paintings to acrylic in the 1960s. He began to paint with an ivory knife, which became an essential tool for his artwork. The knife allowed Jenkins to guide the paint without gouging the canvas. But this was not the only expression of his art; Jenkins also worked in sculpture, participating in the 1971 Sculptors’ Symposium in New York’s Cooper-Hewitt Museum; he experimented with collage; and wrote dance drama to stage the passage of color through a prism.

On invitation from Abba Eban in 1990, Paul Jenkins traveled to Israel, Japan in 1991, and Italy. Jenkins created a series of lithographs in Paris on stone with the title Seven Aspects of Amadeus and the Others. His Polyptychs on canvas, Conjunctions, and Annexes were shown at Gimpel Weitzenhoffer Gallery in New York in 1991. In addition, a book was published by Pascal Bonafoux with a text and the same title.

His watercolors exhibition, Water and Color/L’Eau et la Couleur was started by PACA in Angers in 1994. The same traveled for two years throughout France. Furthermore, the Hofstra Museum, in 1999, organized an exhibition of his canvas works from 1954 to 1960 in Paris and New York. 

Jenkins’ oil and acrylic paintings, sculptures, watercolors, and collage have been shown at many exhibitions and museums around the world, including the Butler Institute of American Art in Ohio, the Redfern Gallery in London, and the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille, France. Before his death in 2012, Jenkins donated around five thousand pieces and his personal papers to the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art.


The diversity of Jenkins’ work springs from his wide-ranging and eclectic influences. Concerned with distance and nearness, texture and color, as well as mysticism and reality, Jenkins’ artwork is considered to be part of Abstract Expressionism’s second wave. It often engages with balance, transformation, change, chance, and synchronicity. Besides his tactile and chance-driven oil painting, Jenkins worked in acrylic and watercolor, created sculpture and collage, and wrote plays and dance drama.


Paul Jenkins’ works can be found in private and public collections worldwide. They have been featured multiple times at auction with sale prices ranging up to $92,500 depending on the medium and size of the artwork. 

His oil paintings bring the highest prices on the market, generally selling for over $20,000, while his acrylic paintings and sculptures often sell in the low five figures. His watercolors and other works on paper also have a reasonably strong market, generally selling for around $5,000.

Appraise and Sell Paul Jenkins’ Work

If you have any works by Paul Jenkins, especially his paintings, sculptures, or collage, get in touch with our experts at Revere Auctions. If you would like to sell your Jenkins pieces, you can auction them at our location in St. Paul, Minnesota. We also offer our services online.

You can contact us anytime for a free auction estimate if you want to sell Jenkins’ artwork. We have a very simple process. After you send us the photos of the work, our experts will take a look, analyze, and provide you an estimate of the amount the artwork is likely to reach at auction.  

If you need an appraisal for Jenkins’ work, we provide a certified appraisal report that can be used for estate taxes, donations, and insurance coverage. Our appraisals are compliant with Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice and are accepted by insurance companies, charity agencies, and the IRS.