The exhibition features recent paintings of New York City and Maine alongside important canvases that mark major developments in Jacquette’s oeuvre over the last thirty-five years.
In recent paintings of New York City, Jacquette heightens the disjunctive, collage-based sense of space that she has employed since the early 1990s. Studio on Tin Pan Alley, N.Y. (2015) presents a compression of mid-rise brick and glass interrupted by ambiguous glimpses into interiors. In the mosaic-like Delirious Manhattan (2014), buildings tilt and shapes shift wildly in shades of electric orange, yellow, and blue. Surprising overlays, patterns, and upturned elements also appear in Buoyancy (2014) and New High Rise Hotel, Old Chelsea (2014). Jacquette generates these compositions by cutting and pasting her drawings and prints into new configurations that she can paint. The qualities of these other media, such as the white outlines of the woodblock prints, are also translated into oil on canvas or linen. This is evident at the edges of Paper Co., Somerset, Maine II (1994), where the dark, simplified structures at the edges also relate to Jacquette’s underpainting technique. In Vertiginous World Financial Center III (2007), all of the buildings and paths are reduced to a linear web of light and dark.
A flight to San Diego in 1969 first sparked Jacquette’s interest in aerial views. She began flying commercially to study cloud formations and weather patterns, soon discovering that the landscape below also offered new challenges and opportunities. In the mid-1970s, she started to charter small planes so that she could sketch and paint Maine and New York City as seen from above. This process, made clear in Shopping Mall, Rockland, ME II (2003) and York Island, Off Isle Au Haut (2013), is one of the defining elements of her art.
Jacquette created her first nocturnal painting with an aerial perspective in 1978, developing the painting from pastel sketches completed during extended visits to a friend in a hospital overlooking New York’s East River and the FDR Drive. This inspired her ongoing exploration of the effects of bright lights, reflections, and indistinct objects set against surrounding darkness. In Oil Tanker Near Battery Park II (1981), for example, we look out from the curve of lower Manhattan toward an expanse of moving water edged with the shimmer of illuminated buildings.
New York City, where Jacquette has lived since 1955, has remained a constant in her art. From 1974 though early 2001, she worked from empty offices or the top floor of the World Trade Center to capture dizzying perspectives. She has also utilized the vantage points of structures like the Empire State Building, itself the subject of Empire State Building II (2009). Though Jacquette bases her work in direct experience and portrays recognizable landmarks, she departs from strict representation. Her scenes are fluid and changeable, true to intuition, chance, and fleeting perception.
As the San Francisco painting Embarcadero with Bay II (1984) suggests, Jacquette has also created aerial landscapes and city views across the country in places like Chicago, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Colorado, as well as in Canada, Switzerland, and Italy. Following visits to Tokyo and Hong Kong in the mid-1980s and early 1990s, Jacquette began to incorporate multiple viewpoints in her paintings to express the layers and intricacies of urban space. Hong Kong Composite IV (1991-92), Hong Kong Harbor With Floating Restaurant V (1992-93), and Herald Square Composite II (1993) feature more active brushwork and dramatic, stacked geometries of glowing neon signs in primary colors.
As John Yau has written of Jacquette, “Never an expressionist, and always basing her work on the observation of her immediate surroundings, her art nevertheless achieves states of complex feeling and profound insight.”