Born 1934 in Omaha, Nebraska, Jay Milder became a noted abstract painter in the New York art scene in 1958 when he, Bob Thompson, and Red Grooms founded City Gallery. They were all influenced by Abstract Expressionism, but closer to Willem De Kooning than Jackson Pollock because all three were committed to figurative work. Milder was originally shown at The Allan Stone Gallery and then when Martha Jackson took over as Milder’s dealer, her client, Walter Chrysler, became Milder’s first notable collector.
Milder was greatly influenced by the Hasidic mysticism of his ancestors and by the black dominated jazz night clubs he frequented in North Omaha. In the early 1950s, he studied in Paris with Ossip Zadkine and Andre Lhote but was mostly inspired by the abstract work of Chaim Soutine, who had died a decade earlier. Milder always was a Figurative Expressionist where he states his beliefs in the dialect perspective. Milder was drawn to Cabala which states you can interpret Scripture thousands of different ways; the same as the Sufis and other Eastern philosophies.