Jackie Saccoccio, a painter known for her explosive but delicately structured, almost atmospheric abstract paintings that exploited the fluidity of painting in the tradition of Jackson Pollock, Paul Jenkins and Helen Frankenthaler, died on December 4 in Manhattan. She was 56 years old.
Her death, in hospital, was first announced on Instagram by her husband, sculptor Carl D’Alvia, and later by her gallery, Van Doren Waxter in Manhattan, who said the cause was cancer.
Ms. Saccoccio belonged to a generation of female artists now in their 40s and 50s who added new vitality to abstract painting from the turn of the 21st century, including Charline von Heyl, Julie Mehretu, Joanne Greenbaum, Michaela Eichwald, Amy Sillman, Katharina Grosse and Cecily Brown. Most of them saw new potential in the art of the past, and several, like Ms. Saccoccio, experimented with the manipulation of paint and randomness.
Inspired by both Abstract Expressionists and Italian Baroque, Ms Saccoccio specialized in large canvases on which expansive waves and splashes of vivid, luminous color seemed to swirl and collide amid networks of streaming lines running in several directions. The suit fragmented the space and seemed to hover in front of the viewer like a hyperactive, lavishly colored cloud.
She incorporated chance into her work by pouring, dripping and splashing paint, increasing the action by tilting her canvases one way and then another. His painting ranged from thick to thin. It allowed him to drip from one canvas to another and even transferred marks by pressing wet canvases together. She preferred large canvases and handled them herself, never hiring assistants, although in 2004 she switched from wooden stretchers to aluminum stretchers, which weighed less.
Seemingly shy, Ms Saccoccio was actually self-sufficient and – as her published interviews indicated – full of opinions and observations that she shared with anyone who asked. She didn’t like working small. “It’s very difficult for me to deal with the hand-wrist-mind issue alone,” she said in a 2015 interview with Artspace.
His paintings seemed extraordinarily spontaneous. “SP. Saccoccio’s recent paintings appear to have been projected onto the canvas,” wrote New York Times critic Martha Schwendener in a 2014 review of her two-gallery exhibition at Eleven Rivington and Van Doren Waxter.
The effect was intentional; In an Elle magazine article that year, Ms Saccoccio said she wanted to “communicate this idea of impermanence” and “make a static object” – the painting – “appear to move”.
She studied Mannerist portraits and Baroque sculptures in Italian museums, and she took detailed notes on the dynamics of the painting surface or the three-dimensional form of a work. At the Capitoline Museum in Rome, for example, she was delighted by Alessandro Algardi’s larger than life bronze sculpture of Pope Innocent X, completed in 1650, in which the pope’s heavy wavy cloak appears to have a life of its own.
Back in the studio, she tried to translate her notes into the language of abstraction, her improvisations usually winning her far from her starting points.
In fact, her paintings had to be examined over time to get a full picture of their intricate and ravishing beauty. Many of them can involve up to 50 diapers and last up to three months.
Even so, as she said in the Artspace interview, “Usually I think a painting is done when I feel a reconnection to the ideas I originally had.
Other influences include Titian, Malcolm Morley and Courbet, as well as his contemporaries. “Profile (Yellow Yuskavage)”, completed in 2015, was based on the palette of a work by New York painter Lisa Yuskavage. “Tempest (Concave)”, completed in 2019, derives its title from Shakespeare and has some of the boost energy of Bernini’s “Ecstasy of Saint Teresa”.
Jacqueline Marie Saccoccio was born on December 16, 1963 in Providence, RI, the third and youngest child of Harry Saccoccio, a businessman, and Anna (DiSanto) Saccoccio, a housewife. Both of her parents were the children of Italian immigrants.
She became interested in art from a young age and was fascinated by watching her neighbor next door painting seascapes in her backyard. A high school art teacher encouraged her to apply to the Rhode Island School of Design, conveniently located near her home, where she briefly studied architecture before moving on to painting.
In 1983, she studied in Rome, during what was to be the first of several Italian stays which became essential to her work. The others were made possible through grants from the Fulbright-Hays Foundation in 1990 and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation in 2000, as well as the Prix de Rome from the American Academy in Rome, which she received in 2004.
After earning her BFA, Ms. Saccoccio worked for a year for an antique dealer in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and received an MA in Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She moved to New York around 1990 with Mr. D’Alvia, whom she met at the Rhode Island School of Design; they married in 1992. He survives her, as does their daughter, Maddelena D’Alvia; his brother, William; and his sister, Janet Saccoccio. She has lived for the last few years in West Cornwall, Conn.
Her interests in Abstract Expressionism, Baroque, and Mannerism made her feel out of step with the freshness of more conceptual art that prevailed in the 1990s. At the time, Ms. Saccoccio was painting landscapes defined by heavy black outlines that reflected his admiration for Roy Lichtenstein. But soon the lines faded and her brushwork began to loosen.
Some of these works were based on flowers, such as the two exhibited in the Project Room of the Lauren Wittels Gallery in SoHo in 1997, her first solo exhibition in New York. His best paintings tended to excess: heaps of looping brushstrokes in bright colors. She also sought to physically expand her medium by hanging her paintings on walls where she had executed large abstract drawings in ink, such as in her 2006 exhibition at the Black & White Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
In 2001, she began living part-time with her husband and daughter in Connecticut, where she had enough studio space to work on more than one large canvas at a time. Over the next few years, the paintbrush ceased to be its dominant tool. She unveiled her first painting to sink, a 15-foot-wide effort called “One to One,” at Eleven Rivington on the Lower East Side in 2010.
As her brushstrokes got bigger and bigger, she was drawn into the physical world of painting herself and became, as she told artist Ridley Howard in an interview in 2013 for the Huffington Post, “more interested in what was going on in the brand space than associating it with other brands. “
Ms. Saccoccio learned she had cancer in 2014; although her treatment was difficult, she rarely stopped working. From 2015 to 2019, she had eight solo exhibitions in galleries in the United States, Japan and China. An exhibition of two galleries which she entitled “Femme Brut” opened at Van Doren Waxter and Chart in TriBeCa in early 2020. Another exhibition of new works opened in October at her Tokyo gallery, the Club. Ms. Saccoccio titled it “Knife Edge”.