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Currently On View

Don Jacot: In Memoriam 1949 - 2021

There is no subtitle for this exhibition

14 September — 1 December, 2021

New York – Don Jacot, the Photorealist artist known for his colorful paintings of vintage toys and precisely depicted vintage urban landscapes, died on August 26th in San Francisco, California. He was 72.

His death was announced by his family on September 14, 2021.

A major figure in the second generation of Photorealist painters, Don Jacot brought a unique combination of personal vision and painterly precision to his work.

As Louis Meisel wrote: “Don Jacot was one of the leading Photorealists of the all-important second generation of Photorealist painters whose work helped to cement the achievement of the artists of this genre. His work displays the highest level of realist and representational painting. He was a prolific and productive artist throughout his life and passed away at his easel doing what he loved to do.”

Jacot’s early works of the 1980s featured urban landscapes of his native Chicago, including factory settings and elevated train platforms. The strong compositional emphasis on structural steel and concrete elements in these works were inspired by the masters of urban realism, including Charles Sheeler, whose work he saw at the Detroit Institute of Art. Jacot was a lover of history and particularly of mid-century America. Thus, he lovingly captured the great halls of Chicago’s Union Station and New York City’s Grand Central Station in all their historic and nostalgic grandeur.

As his work evolved in the 1990s, his eye and his lens turned to close-up images of urban shop windows. Jacot was drawn to dense displays filled with a mind-boggling variety of items from toys to vintage cameras, clocks, or chrome coffee pots and toasters. He often edited things out of the store windows he photographed and inserted items he preferred.

Commenting on these works he said: “I combined things from different eras, objects with similar functions or with nostalgic, whimsical, or symbolic value, and thereby reflected the culture around me. Beyond that I wanted to share my fascination with the forms of the things themselves, their colors and surfaces, and their appearances under different lighting, angles, or lens lengths.”

For some of the store-front paintings he fabricated the entire window display, including the storefront exteriors. These large, masterful works could take as long as a year to complete.

Jacot “telescoped down” (a phrase that he created) for the next phase of his work, narrowing his focus from the store windows to blow-ups of the individual items and artifacts themselves. He enjoyed the small scale of many of these paintings, which highlighted the specificity of the vintage toys that he loved and which were to become his signature subject.

These paintings, which he called “Toy Stories,” feature precise depictions of single toys, as well as vignettes composed of pairs and small groupings. There are windup performing clowns, elephants playing drums and shimmying hula dolls. An amazing variety of ‘40s and ‘50s robots stare out at us like miniature mechanical armies. He then went on to create a series of six-foot paintings in which the toys are blown up to several times their actual size.

Jacot’s approach to subject matter and methodology were unique. In his last series of work, Jacot returned to the urban landscape as his subject. Using vintage photography as his source material, Jacot recreated and revisited the glamour days of Broadway and Times Square and other scenes of the 1930s and 1940s. To enhance the verisimilitude of his creations, he employed historic black and white photos of movie marquees and signage. He constructed the marquees to scale out of black cardboard, added signage, and lit them from within with light bulbs. He then arranged an array of scale model toy cars and buses to simulate the traffic on these busy period streets; photographs of the tableau would then become additional source material for the painting. His extensive historic research resulted in masterful Photorealist paintings that capture the charmed vintage fantasy world of his imagination.

Jacot’s work has been represented by the Louis K. Meisel Gallery since 1990. He has had several solo shows and his work has been included in numerous museum exhibitions. His paintings are held in many public collections in Detroit.

Don Jacot was born in Chicago, and he grew up in Downers Grove, IL. He attended Augustana College and completed a B.A. at the University of IL Champaign. He served in the Naval Air Reserve as a medic and then earned a B.S. at Mercy College in Detroit. While working as a Physician’s Assistant, he took drawing classes at Wayne State University and eventually began to sell his artwork. He moved to San Francisco in the late 1980s, where he continued his PA service until his artistic career took off.

Don is survived by his brothers Robert and Charles. He was predeceased by his parents N. Edgard and Ruth Elizabeth Jacot and by his siblings Nancy and William.

Available works by Don Jacot can be viewed virtually here.

New York – Don Jacot, the Photorealist artist known for his colorful paintings of vintage toys and precisely depicted vintage urban landscapes, died on August 26th in San Francisco, California. He was 72.

His death was announced by his family on September 14, 2021.

A major figure in the second generation of Photorealist painters, Don Jacot brought a unique combination of personal vision and painterly precision to his work.

As Louis Meisel wrote: “Don Jacot was one of the leading Photorealists of the all-important second generation of Photorealist painters whose work helped to cement the achievement of the artists of this genre. His work displays the highest level of realist and representational painting. He was a prolific and productive artist throughout his life and passed away at his easel doing what he loved to do.”

Jacot’s early works of the 1980s featured urban landscapes of his native Chicago, including factory settings and elevated train platforms. The strong compositional emphasis on structural steel and concrete elements in these works were inspired by the masters of urban realism, including Charles Sheeler, whose work he saw at the Detroit Institute of Art. Jacot was a lover of history and particularly of mid-century America. Thus, he lovingly captured the great halls of Chicago’s Union Station and New York City’s Grand Central Station in all their historic and nostalgic grandeur.

As his work evolved in the 1990s, his eye and his lens turned to close-up images of urban shop windows. Jacot was drawn to dense displays filled with a mind-boggling variety of items from toys to vintage cameras, clocks, or chrome coffee pots and toasters. He often edited things out of the store windows he photographed and inserted items he preferred.

Commenting on these works he said: “I combined things from different eras, objects with similar functions or with nostalgic, whimsical, or symbolic value, and thereby reflected the culture around me. Beyond that I wanted to share my fascination with the forms of the things themselves, their colors and surfaces, and their appearances under different lighting, angles, or lens lengths.”

For some of the store-front paintings he fabricated the entire window display, including the storefront exteriors. These large, masterful works could take as long as a year to complete.

Jacot “telescoped down” (a phrase that he created) for the next phase of his work, narrowing his focus from the store windows to blow-ups of the individual items and artifacts themselves. He enjoyed the small scale of many of these paintings, which highlighted the specificity of the vintage toys that he loved and which were to become his signature subject.

These paintings, which he called “Toy Stories,” feature precise depictions of single toys, as well as vignettes composed of pairs and small groupings. There are windup performing clowns, elephants playing drums and shimmying hula dolls. An amazing variety of ‘40s and ‘50s robots stare out at us like miniature mechanical armies. He then went on to create a series of six-foot paintings in which the toys are blown up to several times their actual size.

Jacot’s approach to subject matter and methodology were unique. In his last series of work, Jacot returned to the urban landscape as his subject. Using vintage photography as his source material, Jacot recreated and revisited the glamour days of Broadway and Times Square and other scenes of the 1930s and 1940s. To enhance the verisimilitude of his creations, he employed historic black and white photos of movie marquees and signage. He constructed the marquees to scale out of black cardboard, added signage, and lit them from within with light bulbs. He then arranged an array of scale model toy cars and buses to simulate the traffic on these busy period streets; photographs of the tableau would then become additional source material for the painting. His extensive historic research resulted in masterful Photorealist paintings that capture the charmed vintage fantasy world of his imagination.

Jacot’s work has been represented by the Louis K. Meisel Gallery since 1990. He has had several solo shows and his work has been included in numerous museum exhibitions. His paintings are held in many public collections in Detroit.

Don Jacot was born in Chicago, and he grew up in Downers Grove, IL. He attended Augustana College and completed a B.A. at the University of IL Champaign. He served in the Naval Air Reserve as a medic and then earned a B.S. at Mercy College in Detroit. While working as a Physician’s Assistant, he took drawing classes at Wayne State University and eventually began to sell his artwork. He moved to San Francisco in the late 1980s, where he continued his PA service until his artistic career took off.

Don is survived by his brothers Robert and Charles. He was predeceased by his parents N. Edgard and Ruth Elizabeth Jacot and by his siblings Nancy and William.

Available works by Don Jacot can be viewed virtually here.

Featured Works

About Don Jacot

Don Jacot (b. 1949, Chicago, Illinois; d. 2021, San Francisco, California) is known for his larger-than-life sized paintings of tin toys and precisely depicted vintage urban landscapes. Initially influenced by Charles Bell’s still lifes, in his later years, Jacot developed a completely new take on Photorealism by combining still life and landscape. Using archival photographs of mid-twentieth-century cities, scale model vehicles, and photographs of vintage signage as source material, Jacot created his own historically accurate compositions of the ’30s and ’40s.

Jacot began exhibiting his work regularly in the 1980s; his paintings are held in many public collections in Detroit. He received his B.A. from University of Illinois, Champaign and his B.S. from Mercy College of Detroit.

Don Jacot