Jay DeFeo


  • The Whitney's Collection: Selections from 1900 to 1965, Kids

    Jay DeFeo, The Rose, 1958–1966

    Jay DeFeo, The Rose, 1958–1966


    Narrator: What’s the longest you’ve ever worked on a painting? Jay DeFeo spent nearly eight years creating The Rose, by adding thick layers of paint and then scraping massive amounts away.

    Layer then scrape—over and over! In between she added things from her day-to-day life: a barrette, bottle cap, keys, and wire.

    Sometimes the thick layers of paint would shift overnight. When it did, DeFeo carefully carved the paint until it was back the way she wanted it. Sometimes, a week or even a month later, the paint would shift again! But DeFeo never gave up. She worked through her frustration until it looked exactly the way she wanted.

    As you can probably imagine—eight years’ worth of paint makes for one heavy painting! It is 11 inches thick in places, and probably weighs about a ton. That's about twenty-seven fifth graders!

  • The Whitney's Collection: Selections from 1900 to 1965, Spanish

    Jay DeFeo, The Rose, 1958–1966

    Jay DeFeo, The Rose, 1958–1966


    Narrador: Dana Miller es la excuradora de la colección permanente en el Whitney, y fue la curadora de la retrospectiva de Jay DeFeo en 2013.

    Dana Miller: The Rose es la pintura más emblemática de DeFeo. Dedicó casi ocho años a trabajar en ella. Desde 1958 hasta 1966. Cuando comenzó a trabajar en esta obra, no tenía idea de lo que iba a crear. Ella dijo que lo único que sabía era que iba a crear una pintura que tuviera un centro. Y con eso fue que empezó.

    Aplicaba la pintura con espátulas y paletas, la engrosaba de una manera muy exhaustiva, y luego la iba esculpiendo y dándole forma.

    Había días en que regresaba al estudio por la mañana, y veía que la pintura había cambiado durante la noche. Aunque la noche anterior hubiera salido del estudio contenta con el progreso de la obra, la gravedad la arruinaba por completo debido al grosor de todas las capas de pintura.

    A veces tenía que raspar y limar todo de nuevo, y volver a empezar. En varios sentidos, era una suma de destrucciones.

    Narrador: Jay DeFeo en 1988.

    Jay DeFeo: Alcanzó bastantes etapas finales. Sabes, como una especie de ciclo de historia del arte. Tuvo un momento primitivo, arcaico, clásico, y hasta llegó a un barroco, pero luego me di cuenta de que todo el concepto se había vuelto muy ostentoso, y volví a traerlo a una especie de etapa más clásica. Todas esas etapas eran bastante completas e interesantes en sí mismas, pero simplemente no era la versión final, no era lo que yo quería. Y supongo que no sé si todo habría estado en un único lienzo si hubiera tenido un estudio más grande, que me hubiera permitido extenderla un poco más. Pero solo tenía una única pared grande para pintar.

  • The Whitney's Collection: Selections from 1900 to 1965

    Jay DeFeo, The Rose, 1958–1966

    Jay DeFeo, The Rose, 1958–1966


    Narrator: Dana Miller is the former curator of the permanent collection. She curated the Jay DeFeo retrospective that took place here at the Whitney in 2013.

    Dana Miller: The Rose is DeFeo's landmark painting. She spent almost eight years working on it, from 1958 to 1966. When she began the work she had really no notion of what she was going to make. She said the only thing she knew was that she was going to create a painting that had a center. And that's what she began with.

    She would apply paint using palette knives and trowels, and build it up in this very, very extensive manner and then carve it back and shape it.

    There were days where she would walk into the studio in the morning and the paint had shifted overnight. While she had been happy with what it looked like when she left it the evening before, it had been completely ruined in the course of gravity shifting the paint just because of the thick application. And she would have to, in some cases, scrape it all the way back and start over. It was a sum of its destructions in many ways.

    Narrator: Jay DeFeo in 1988.

    Jay DeFeo: It reached really final stages. Kind of like a whole cycle of art history. It went through a primitive, archaic, classic, and all on up to baroque and then I realized how flamboyant the whole concept had gotten and I kind of pulled it back to a more classical stage. All of those stages were rather interesting and complete in themselves but just not what the final version was, what I intended. And I suppose, I don’t know whether it would have all gone on, on one canvas if I’d had the kind of studio that it could have spread itself out in a little bit. But I just had one big painting wall. 

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