Jay DeFeo: A Retrospective
Audio Guide Playlist

This audio guide features commentary by artist Jay DeFeo, Dana Miller, curator of the permanent collection, Whitney Museum of American Art, Leah Levy, Director, The Jay DeFeo Trust, Corey Keller, associate curator of photography, San Francisco  Museum of Modern Art, Greil Marcus, writer and critic, Ursula Cipa, and Fred Martin, friends of DeFeo.


 

 

DANA MILLER: In the early 1970s, one of the images of the objects around her that DeFeo gravitated to was a broken ceramic cup handle.

NARRATOR: That cup handle appears in the 1973 photo-collage.

DANA MILLER: She had saved the handle from several years prior, and took photographs of it, and made works on paper, including Unknown Image, from 1971, which, you see the white ceramic cup handle towards the top left.

This cup handle became the source for a series called the Loop System that she made in the mid-1970s. And in 1974, she was working on Loop System No. 2, and in the process of spray painting the back, masked some of the central imagery with paper towels.

While she was working in her studio, she realized that the image of the painting with the paper towels was perhaps as interesting as the work that she was making. She took photographs of the painting partially masked with the paper towels, arranging the towels just so, and creating a new composition.

Those photographs then became the source for the second two Loop System paintings Masquerade in Black, which is Loop System No. 4, and Cygnus, which is Loop System No. 3, the white and the black, the point and the counterpoint, both of which are derived from photographs of Loop System No. 2.

I think for DeFeo, she was always interested in making various iterations of an image or a subject—that she rarely made one image of a particular subject, that she wanted to create relationships amongst her paintings, amongst her drawings, bodies of work and families that had relationships. She would experiment, and create one in black and the other in white, or one small and the other large, or an image and then the reverse or reflective image of that particular composition. 

 

 


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