The exhibition is a stunner, mostly because it’s DeFeo’s unremitting investigatory impulse and deft handling of (sometimes-) antagonistic media — rather than the handful of forms and objects that became both cast and crew in her work — that’s really the subject here.
By now, you have likely read about — and, we hope, seen — the probing and complete survey of Jay DeFeo‘s (1929-89) later works at Mitchell-Innes & Nash (through 6/7). Fifty paintings, drawings, photographs, photocopies and collages, many pulled from the DeFeo Trust’s archive and rarely or not-yet publicly seen, push well-past the mythology of The Rose and take us to a place just beyond where the 2012 and 2013 retrospectives at SFMoMA and the Whitney left off.
The exhibition is a stunner, mostly because it’s DeFeo’s unremitting investigatory impulse and deft handling of (sometimes-) antagonistic media — rather than the handful of forms and objects that became both cast and crew in her work — that’s really the subject here. Have a look at Untitled (White Spica) (1973) — the sense of surface achieved in that print — and it’s hard to say if any artist since DeFeo has truly been able to bridge the conceptual divide that separates painting from photography — especially today. And while plenty of attention is given to DeFeo’s near sanctification of her subjects, and how she was able to transcend their physical reality and push them to a more liminal place, we wanted to know more about the material practices that were so directly at the heart of her search.
Jay DeFeo, “Lotus Eater No. 1”, 1974
Acrylic with collage on Masonite, 72.5 x 48.5 in. (184.2 x 123.2 cm.)
©The Jay DeFeo Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Courtesy of Mitchell-Innes & Nash, NY.
We walked through the gallery with Lucy Mitchell-Innes last Tuesday to learn more about DeFeo’s experimentation and chance trials, and about how the exhibition came to be.
Jay DeFeo: Lucy Mitchell-Innes in Conversation
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