With watercolors in hand, she was painting clouds from a window seat in an airplane. As Yvonne Jacquette relates her story, “Then the clouds rolled away and I had to face that gigantic spread of cities.” That aerial scene that we’ve all experienced, mysterious, remote, and voyeuristic, would come to define her life as an artist. Making pastel drawings and taking photographs onsite, from multiple angles and heights, she gathers the references that will be distilled into a uniquely personal view of her own. From airplanes, helicopters and the highest floors of skyscrapers, she has found the atmosphere where she can move most freely.
Rather than using flat color, Jacquette’s forms are slowly built with layered, short strokes, creating textures that shimmer with the sensual richness found in the works of the Impressionists. In New York Natural History Museum II the foreground roof structures and rooftops almost vibrate with brilliant blue purples and ceruleans enveloped in roof tar black. Foliage, painted in mauves and dark browns, encircles the Museum and its neighbors. It’s a view that overlooks Central Park, with a delicate line of night-lit buildings at the top edge of the canvas and a New Yorker’s wit of a miniscule Guggenheim, in pale blue green, poking out above the trees of the far East Side.
From the velvet, almost iridescent-toned pastels on paper, basic positions and relationships are noted. Beautiful in the haunting way that comes only from a first impression, their saturated color and intense blacks create a depth that is almost vertiginous. It is enlightening to compare them to the larger paintings in these rooms.
With Whitney Museum Under Construction II, what were faint and secondary elements in the original drawing, the streets and roads on either side of the site, have developed into essential components in form and color. The highway by the Hudson River becomes a powerful circular force that directs the eye right to the blue center of the canvas, the point of the Museum’s steady growth. The headlights of the moving cars and the motion lines added around the vehicles on both the right highway and the pink-hued streets on the left edges, add an energy that contrasts with the quiet stability of the building in process. A strip of raised gray and pale blue rises up, like the nearby street, from an entirely different angle, alongside of architect Renzo Piano’s massive construction site. Blue shapes of its empty floors seem to transition into the flow of the river itself.
Most intriguing is a series of collages where, as in a Cubist dream, shapes cut out from a previously made landscape print are playfully reconfigured as pure geometric form. Changing perspectives and realigned structures create variations of each landscape and the homes scattered across them.
Yellows, golds, white and blue lights infuse the darkness of the multiple perspectives of Late Sun Above Madison Square Park II. Pattern against pattern is used to convey spatial distance. Round, warm salmon-pink shapes indicating the ground level balance each other on the lower corners. Somehow we hover above both. Although it is a nocturnal scene, the sky is a vibrating blue that matches the building’s lights. The lush mound of trees is built over the same blue, with a multitude of dots of black, brown, and dark green. There is a rare sighting of human forms on the glowing path through the Park.
By A. Bascove