“…Jay Defeo’s work is nearly always about scrutinizing objects from her daily life, interpreting them through the filter of her lovely idiosyncrasy, then photographing, drawing, re-working and reinterpreting them to come up with new ways of understanding. it’s a process like a metaphysician’s — a quest to comprehend the nature and scope of the universe…”
For the next eight years, The Rose took over her life, as she painted and repainted it.
“It’s going through a whole cycle of art history, the primitive, the archaic, the classic, and then on to the baroque but still not the final version. I just want to create a work that is just so precariously balanced between going this way or that way that it maintains itself,” she said.
To keep herself going, Jay drank a quart of Christian Brothers brandy a day and smoked two to three packs of Gauloises. At some point, she began adding metallic powders into the mix for sparkle, and inserted copper wire, beads, and pearls. By 1965, she had paid a total of $5,375.51 for painting materials. Today it resides in the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Despite all those Gauloises, it was the painting that was the death of her. Constantly licking her brush to get a point, Jay ingested huge amounts of lead from the white paint, and died of cancer in 1989. Ironically, Jay’s first title for her painting has been Deathrose.
America Is Hard to See features more than 600 works by some 400 artists. On the Museum’s sixth floor, view art from 1950 to 1975 including works by Jay DeFeo, Donald Judd, Claes Oldenburg, Ed Ruscha, and Andy Warhol.
Rather than comb our collections for images of flags/parades/hot dogs/fireworks for today’s post, we thought we’d go with what we do best and share a sampling of artists who made their mark on the American canon. All of these portraits are by Mimi Jacobs.
Currently on display at LACMA, The Jewel is one of my favorite paintings. I just finished writing an essay describing what makes it fantastically interesting, including the fact that despite you can’t see it here, the meaty mounds of paint protrude several inches from the canvas, like it’s bursting out at the viewer.