Jack Zajac - sculptor


Jack Zajac is an American artist sculptor.

He is best known for his bronze sculptures that resemble animal skulls, such as 

Also, Cowell College at UC Santa Cruz, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Israel Museum (Jerusalem), The J Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles),Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City), Palm Springs Art Museum, the Pasadena Museum of California Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the San Jose Museum of Art, the Wildling Museum (Solvang, CA) and the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis) are among the public collections holding works by Jack Zajac.

Zajac began painting at an early age. Shortly after his family moved from Ohio to Southern California, he began taking art classes at Scripps College in Claremont, California. He also worked at a steel mill, as a fisherman, bingo parlor caller, and café fiddler. Over the next decade, Zajac received increased recognition for his painting which balanced representational elements like birds and the sea with abstraction.


In 1954, Zajac received the Rome Prize, allowing him to spend an extended period in Rome. While exposed to that city's wealth of classical sculpture, he began sculpting. Many of Europe's most prominent sculptors also spent time in Rome during the post-war period including Marino Marini, Alberto Giacometti, and Giacomo Manzù. Among Zajac's earliest exhibited sculpture was a series of sacrificial animals--goats and lambs sprawled over a stake or bound on their backsides. He would return to this theme over the next several decades.


During the 1960s, Zajac produced a series of monumental bronzes depicting ram's skulls, but also created more serene images. In polished stone and bronze, he represented falling water, breaking waves, and a swan form. These subjects would continue to preoccupy him for several decades. In 1974, Zajac began teaching at University of California, Santa Cruz. Now retired, Zajac continues to live and produce sculpture in Santa Cruz.


Here is a sculpture from the falling water series, (found in his studio, 2024).


Visiting his studio (2024), you will find that he is also a painter (but he still uses a sculpture pedestal to show in his workroom).