Born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1923, Paul Jenkins lives and works in New York and in Saint Paul the Vence, France. He studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and at the Art Students League in New York. In 1953 he made his first trip to Italy, staying for three months. In 1954 he held his first exhibition in Paris and the following year his first one-man show in the United States.
Starting from 1960 Jenkins began to entitle his canvases "Phenomena," followed by a phrase or else a key word. 1964 saw his first retrospective exhibition at the Kestner-Gesellschaft in Hanover. In the same year he began shooting the film "The Ivory Knife: Paul Jenkins at Work," which was presented two years later at the Museum of Modern Art in New york and subsequently at the Festival of Venice (on this occasion being awarded the aquila d'Oro).
He made various trips to the Caribbean, Russia, China and Japan, where he worked with the "Gutai Group." In 1986 he wrote "Shaman to the Prism Seen," a choreographic opera, the subject of which was transposed in a series of watercolors. In 1987 the OperÓ de Paris presented this work for five evenings at the Salle Favart, for the stage-design of which Jenkins also produced two original canvases measuring 10x13 meters.
In recent years he has exhibited on a regular basis in both America and Europe. He has died on June 9th, 2012 in New York.