Shirley Sternstein was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1923. After the early death of her father her family moved to Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. Jaffe graduated from Cooper Union prior to moving to France with her husband, who studied there on the GI Bill.
An American in Paris since 1949, the painter Shirley Jaffe has perfected her playful yet rigorous geometric / biomorphic abstractions since the late 1960’s.
Observations of quotidian, urban architectural elements and sounds from her Parisian environment provide the material scaffolding from which she constructs and delicately balances her saturated hues and rectilinear shapes. Jaffe’s shapes and line dance with color. They are woven together with such pitch perfect tension that should any element be removed the whole composition would fall apart.
Shirley Jaffe was closely involved with a wide range of American artists who lived and worked in Paris for a period of time. Amongst them were: Sam Francis, Al Held, Janice Biala, Norman Bluhm, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Joan Mitchell, Kimber Smith, Zuka, Sheila Hicks and was acquainted with Ellsworth Kelly and Jack Youngerman. Shirley Jaffe was deeply embedded in the Postwar Paris art world and widely respected by artists of all ages. In Paris she showed with legendary Jean Fournier prior to joining Nathalie Obadia Galerie.
Jaffe’s work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, New York, the Musée de la Ville de Paris and the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges-Pompidou, Paris.