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On the face of it, Alain Jacquet, who has died aged 69 of cancer, was a tail-ender in a tail-end offshoot of pop art. This was the French version, nouveau réalisme, created by the critic Pierre Restany. The Independent Group had held its first exhibition at the ICA in London in 1956, the prototype of pop art in Europe, indeed, in the world, since it contained pop collages made by Eduardo Paolozzi in 1947. In 1960 Restany brought together a bunch of artists, issued a one-line manifesto including the two key words "nouveau réalisme", and promoted it as vigorously as Beaujolais nouveau: le nouveau réalisme is here.

Jacquet was not part of the original group but soon became one of the liveliest practitioners of new realism and introduced Restany as one of the loungers on the grass in Déjeuner sur l'herbe, his take on Manet's painting.

The other painters involved formed such a disparate grouping that the movement could hardly survive. Yves Klein signed up, although his claim to neo-realism could only have lain in that one of his charming inventions was to cover attractive female nudes in wet blue pigment and roll them over canvases with interesting results. In fact, the movement lingered for 10 years and then was killed off in a very French way, with a banquet; but neo-realism itself survived in Jacquet's continued career.

Jacquet was born in the Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine and studied architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts. He never practised architecture, but instead trained himself as a painter and began making works (including the Manet) based on the very obvious separate pixels that made up newspaper photographs and comic-strip artwork in the days of high-speed letterpress printing and pages composed in metal.

The American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein had already become famous for his use of magnified pixels (or Ben Day dots, as they were known in America and for ever after in the art world). The British artist Richard Hamilton had made a picture called A Little Bit of Roy Lichtenstein for ... (1964), which was a tiny section lifted from a Lichtenstein work and magnified so that it became abstract. Jacquet did not go for abstraction pure and simple, but developed a series of paintings with the generic title of Camouflages in which the dots helped to disguise the subject of the painting, which underpinned the composition but was elusive to the eye.


He had his first solo exhibition in Paris in 1961, but it was 1964 when he made his first real public impact with his version of Manet, which he worked up in brilliant colours from photographs of the original - and it would have appealed to him not only that Picasso had recently produced his own series of paintings and sculptures based on the Déjeuner, but that Manet's group of picnickers was based on a group of figures in the 16th-century engraving of The Judgment of Paris by Marcantonio Raimondi, in turn based on a drawing supplied to him by his friend Raphael. These kinds of rich allusions were to be the key to his work.

The Déjeuner was merely the beginning. Jacquet based another painting on Manet's Olympia, one on Ingres's La Source (which surely must have been a deliberately punning title in the Jacquet version), another on Giorgio de Chirico and one unsuccessful version of the Michelangelo Adam on the Sistine chapel ceiling, better camouflaged than most of his Camouflages between images of the statue of Liberty. Some of the most appealing of his works were original and entertaining pop cubist paintings, intricate but lucid colour harmonies.

Jacquet's work tended to be closer to American pop than to French art, and unsurprisingly he began to split his time between Paris and New York. Late in life, he made a dramatic series of paintings based on subtle distortions of Nasa photographs of the Earth from outer space.

In 1992 he married Sophie Matisse, the great-granddaughter of Henri Matisse. She survives him, together with their 15-year-old daughter, Gaïa Jacquet-Matisse.

· Alain Georges Frank Jacquet, artist, born February 22 1939 - died September 4 200

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