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Jay DeFeoAmerican, 1929-1989
Oil, pencil and charcoal on paper mounted on canvas
comp: 106 x 42 in. (269.2 x 106.7 cm); sheet: 125-3/4 x 47-3/4 in. (318.8 x 121.3 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Gift of Mr. Sam Francis
Â© 2014 The Jay DeFeo Trust/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Reproduction, including downloading of ARS works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Not on view
Jay DeFeo was one of the cornerstones of the San Francisco Bay Area art scene beginning in the 1950s. She is best known for The Rose, to which she devoted herself exclusively from 1958â€“66. After completion, The Rose was shown at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1968. DeFeo continued to make art work and maintain an active studio practice throughout the latter half of the twentieth century until she succumbed to lung cancer in 1989.
Taking its title from Greek mythology, Daphne appears to grow abstracted branches and roots before the viewersâ€™ very eyes as thousands of delicate long strokes of oil, pencil, and charcoal reach the entire length of this vertical composition.
The drawing on paper is mounted to a larger, black-painted canvas. This layering creates a surface within a surface, but also plays with the positive and negative space of the art work. The tear in the bottom right corner is an intentional allusion to the fact that part of the composition is comprised of paper.
The surface takes on an uneven veneer because of the materials used. DeFeo believed that texture and palette have an inverse relationship, and here in Daphne, this viewpoint is evidenced in the way that only tones of black and white pigments are obsessively layered. Rather than adding color for shading or decoration, she built up surface material to achieve tonal gradations.
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