Jeanne Miles was an American painter of luminous geometric abstractions.
Ms. Miles was born in Baltimore and grew up in Washington. She was the first woman to enroll in the art school at George Washington University. In 1937, she was given a travel grant and, determined to use it for something exotic, went to Tahiti for a year to paint. She later studied in Paris at the Atelier Marcel Gromaire and the Grand Chaumiere. She left France after the start of World War II and came to New York, where she lived and worked in Greenwich Village for many years. She moved to Los Angeles two years ago.
Ms. Miles exhibited for many years with the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York during the gallery’s heyday, from 1943 to 1959, and counted artists like Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still and Bradley Walker Tomlin among her friends. More recently, she had solo shows in Manhattan at the Marilyn Pearl Gallery in 1988 and at the Anita Shapolsky Gallery in 1994.The paintings in the Shapolsky show were modest in scale, based on circular and starlike patterns done in shades of rich jade green interspersed with passages of gold leaf. Although abstract, they suggested both illuminated manuscript pages and mandalas. The work reflected both the artist’s long-standing interest in Asian art and thought, and her commitment to the spiritual implications of Western modernist art. ‘The mandala form is universal and deeply fixed in our psyche,’ she said in an interview.
Ms. Miles’s paintings were included in many group shows from the 1930’s on at the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, among other institutions. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Guggenheim, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Newark Museum and elsewhere.
She received grants from the Yaddo Art Colony and the McDowell Art Colony, an award from the American Institute of Arts and Letters in 1968, and two Mark Rothko awards, in 1970 and 1973. She taught at Oberlin College, Moravian College and Yale University.