First encountered Shirley’s work at the Pompidou Center where a brilliant retrospective of her work (An American Woman in Paris) was installed.
Shirley studied art at Cooper Union Art School in New York, then in Washington. She discovered Kandinsky at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and admired Bonnard’s later work. In 1949, she settled for good in Paris. Her friendships with Kimber Smith, Joan Mitchell, Sam Francis, Jean-Paul Riopelle and many others helped her to discover American abstract expressionism, of which they were the “second generation” representatives in France.