Jay DeFeo


oil on paper
13 3/4 x 11 inches

Unless I have a feeling or a particular need for a certain color, I really see no sense or reason to use it. But these works that do have more of a brilliant palette, I have done because I feel a rightness about them. – Jay DeFeo

A pivotal figure in the San Francisco Beat movement alongside Ed Kienholz, Bruce Conner, and Walter Hopps, Jay DeFeo is most famous for her eight-year project The Rose completed from 1958–1966. The massive carved painting weighed nearly one ton, with DeFeo applying oil paint (along with other materials like mica and wood) that she would chisel away to form the grisaille radiating work. After she completed the painting, she continued her artistic experimentations in photography, sculpture, acrylic, assemblage, and drawing. She returned to oil paint in the 1980s when she began a series of small, intimate abstractions. These angular compositions reflect her focus on diagonals that resemble mountain peaks – a favorite subject of DeFeo’s since the 1950s. Untitled showcases a dramatic layering of thick, colorful paint counterbalanced by the triangular barrier in deeper shades. These works from the last decade of her life contain a lively experimentation, evidence of this period of vibrant reawakening in the famed artist’s career. DeFeo’s work is in numerous collections in the United States, including MoMA, New York; the Whitney Museum, New York; and SFMoMA, San Francisco. In 2012, the Whitney Museum organized Jay DeFeo: A Retrospective.