Jess (American, 1923-2004) was a San Francisco-based collagist and painter. He was born Burgess Franklin Collins in Long Beach, California and educated as a chemist before being drafted into the military. Jess worked as a radio-chemist with the Army Corps of Engineers, spending three years at the Atomic Energy Laboratory where he had a small part in the Manhattan Project to develop the first atom bomb. In 1946, Jess was discharged from the military and soon after renounced sciences for what he saw as more constructive pursuits. Jess enrolled in the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) in 1948, at which time he dropped his last name. During this period, Jess met poet Robert Duncan who would become his lifelong partner and frequent collaborator. They were an influential force in the San Francisco artistic community, bringing together painters and poets, organizing exhibitions and readings. Jess’s early work is influenced by his teachers, painters Clifford Still, David Park and William Corbett, as well as by his interest in French post-impressionist painting. Jess later became known for his “paste-up” technique, a method of making intricate and elaborate collage and “copies” of Victorian illustrations. Jess’s collage work draws on themes such as eroticism, the male body, the occult, chemistry and alchemy, which often used old book illustrations, comics and print advertising as raw material. Jess worked reclusively and prolifically on paintings and paste-ups throughout his lifetime.