|Born||Burgess Franklin Collins
August 6, 1923
Long Beach, California
|Died||January 2, 2004(aged 80)|
|Education||San Francisco Art Institute|
|Known for||Visual art|
Jess Collins (August 6, 1923 – January 2, 2004), simply known today as Jess, was an American visual artist.
Jess was born Burgess Franklin Collins in Long Beach, California. He was drafted into the military and worked on the production of plutonium for the Manhattan Project. After his discharge in 1946, Jess worked at the Hanford Atomic Energy Project in Richland, Washington, and painted in his spare time, but his dismay at the threat of atomic weapons led him to abandon his scientific career and focus on his art.
In 1949, Jess enrolled in the California School of the Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) and, after breaking with his family, began referring to himself simply as "Jess". He met Robert Duncan in 1951 and began a relationship with the poet that lasted until Duncan's death in 1988. In 1952, in San Francisco, Jess, with Duncan and painter Harry Jacobus, opened the King Ubu Gallery, which became an important venue for alternative art and which remained so when, in 1954, poet Jack Spicer reopened the space as the Six Gallery.
Many of Jess's paintings and collages have themes drawn from chemistry, alchemy, the occult, and male beauty, including a series called Translations (1959–1976) which is done with heavily laid-on paint in a paint-by-number style. In 1975, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art displayed six of the "Translations" paintings in their MATRIX 2 exhibition. Collins also created elaborate collages using old book illustrations and comic strips (particularly, the strip Dick Tracy, which he used to make his own strip Tricky Cad). Jess's final work, Narkissos, is a complex rendered 6'x5' drawing owned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
A Jess retrospective (Jess: A Grand Collage, 1951–1993) toured the United States in 1993–1994, accompanied by a book of the same title. The book included pictures of some of the paintings and collages from the tour. Interspersed between the pictures were essays by various contributors including poet Michael Palmer who wrote an extended piece on Jess' Narkissos.
- O! Tricky Cad & Other Jessoterica. Edited by Michael Duncan. (Siglio, 2012) ISBN 978-1-938221-00-2
- Jess: To and From the Printed Page. John Ashbery, Thomas Evans, Lisa Jarnot; (Independent Curators International, 2007) ISBN 0-916365-75-1
- Jess, a Grand Collage, 1951-1993. (Buffalo Fine Arts / Albright Knox Art Gallery, 1993) ISBN 0-914782-85-1
- Jess Collins Trust
- San Francisco Art Institute: Jess Collins, BFA 1951 from San Francisco Chronicle, January 7, 2004  by Kenneth Baker
- Ask/ART: Jess
- Jess: To and From the Printed Page exhibition of Jess's impastos from his "Translation" series together with many of his collages and designs, as well as the books and magazines in which they were reproduced
- Guide to the Jess Papers at The Bancroft Library
- Pulled Through Time: A "Caltech News" Reporter Traces the Life of an Elusive Artist
- Gallery Paule Anglim
- Works by or about Jess Collins in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- "Jess: Master of Collage Aesthetic" by Michael Duncan at Siglio Press