Pioneering Art Visionary Dies at 85

Red roses on light grey tombstone outdoors. Funeral ceremony

( – Jacqueline de Jong, an influential artist of the Avant Garde movement in the 1960’s, died on Saturday, June 29 at age 85 after a recent cancer diagnosis.

De Jong was born to a Jewish family in the Netherlands in 1939. She and her mother attempted to leave the country and move to neutral Switzerland in 1942 due to the Second World War but were stopped by the French police and nearly deported to a concentration camp before being helped across the border by the French resistance. She studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London with plans to become an actress, but meeting Danish painter Asger Jorn in 1959 altered her life’s trajectory.

She was mostly known for her paintings, but also dabbled in jewelry making, sculpting, and graphic design. Her work was often surreal and macabre, but usually humorous in nature, and frequently experimental.

De Jong joined the provocative European group Situationist International, which was dedicated to social revolution and capitalist critique, in 1961, but later resigned from the group due to political friction within the group that de Jong wanted to avoid. After leaving the group, de Jong founded The Situationist Times, which was a magazine dedicated to Situationist ideas and included writers and artists of varying backgrounds.

The Dutch artist was active in leftist movements in Europe in the 1960’s, including in the Atelier Populaire movement to support workers on strike in France. She was banned from France due to her participation in the movement in 1968, leading her to move back to Amsterdam, where she remained for the rest of her life.

De Jong continued to make art throughout her life. She had a show in New York in 2023 called “Narrative/No Narrative” and another show in London titled “Le petite mort” that will be exhibited until mid-July.

In an interview with contemporary art magazine Frieze in 2017, de Jong said people need to be “reminded to be disobedient.”

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