Published: September 9, 2008

As published in the New York Times

       Alain Jacquet, a French artist known for his playful modernizations of old master paintings, died Thursday in Manhattan. He was 69 and lived in Manhattan and Paris.

       The cause was cancer of the esophagus, said his wife, Sophie Matisse.

       Mr. Jacquet, associated with Pop Art and the minimovement known as Mec Art (for mechanical art), made use of mechanical processes and advertising clichés in photoscreened works like his “Déjeuner sur l’herbe” series. In it, he posed three friends, including the French critic Pierre Restany and his wife, in modern dress and slipped in a commercially packaged loaf of bread with the label “Jacquet.”

       He later used photoscreen processes to superimpose textures like burlap, wood or steel on cotton fabric, Plexiglas or plastic.

       “My work is all about making images disappear,” he said in an interview in The New York Times in 1968. “It’s a visual, formal thing — there’s no deep philosophy behind it and I’m not commenting on photojournalism. I’m fascinated by the way a picture can break down into the tiniest abstract elements close up, then reappear as a pictorial image.”

       Mr. Jacquet was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris. He studied architecture for two years at the École des Beaux-Arts, but as a painter he was self-taught. His first works, exhibited in Paris, were cool, brightly colored paintings based on images from the game of backgammon, or “jeu de jacquet” in French.

       In his “Camouflage” series, begun in 1962, he superimposed modern vernacular images or swirls of color on reproductions of famous paintings. In “Camouflage Botticelli,” a Shell gasoline pump envelopes the nude goddess in “Birth of Venus,” while a pattern of stars and the Statue of Liberty obscures the reclining Adam in “Camouflage Michel-Ange, Chapelle Sixtine, Génie V.”

       In 1964 Mr. Jacquet moved to New York, where he met Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg and showed his work at the Alexandre Iolas Gallery on East 55th Street. He also abandoned the slow work of painting on canvas for photoscreening, which allowed him to produce variations on a theme rapidly.

       In the 1970s, inspired by photographs of Earth seen from outer space, he embarked on a long-running series of works in which he painted fantastic images — breasts, genitals, faces — on photographed clouds and geographic features transferred to canvas. These works were exhibited in a solo show at the Centre Georges Pompidou in 1993.

       In 1992 he married Ms. Matisse, an artist and the great-granddaughter of Henri Matisse. She and their daughter, Gaia Jacquet-Matisse, survive him, as do his two brothers, Nicolas and Bertrand, both of Paris.


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