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Jay DeFeo: A great woman with gifted hands (Term Paper Sample)


The task was to research on Jay Defeo\'s art work. The paper entailed writing on Jay Defeo art work and why they are unique especially to the world of art.


Jay DeFeo: A great woman with gifted hands.
Art work entails s a visual representation of reality. In it the images speaks so loudly of the realities of life, in them, we are able to discover what people think and what moves them, it also evokes strong emotions ranging from happiness, sadness, joys and desires of every day occurrences. The American post war visual artist Jay Defoe, made humanity realize the profound meaning that art can reveal, portraying gift of art work which some critics have used to explain about realities of life (Smith 2003). The Rose is one of such art work which truly defines Jay DeFeo; it is this magnificent monumental art work that made Jay DeFeo stand out in the era of modern art (Green & Leah 2003).
According to Smith (2003), Jay DeFeo (Mary Joan Defoe) was born on 31st March 1929 in Hanover, and she grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and died of lung cancer at the age of 60 in 1989. She attained a Bachelors degree in fine arts in the University of California Berkeley in 1950 as well as Masters in the same field in the same institution in 1951. She was married to a fellow painter Wally Hedrick in 1954, who was an inspiration to her work and much of her mature artistic work can be traced in the beginning of that period in early 1950 (Smith, 2003). Jay DeFeo often commented in her epistles to her mother and her friend Kelly which can attest to the fact that she had innate passion to the brush (painting) from which she derived her happiness from (Paul, 1976). The zeal to paint made Jay DeFeo to forego the joys of motherhood which she believed would deter her from achieving her goal as the greatest American writer of all times (Smith, 2003). She also had a bountiful of life challenges which consisted of her fight with lung cancer, her bleeding gum, pain of not having a child and also her broken marriage. In these realities of life, she discovered herself in the art, and she could spend hours and years working on her compelling art work, which has taken years to be recognized by the world.
Jay DeFeo Art Work
Jay DeFeo never specialized in one area of art work but rather her work comprised of diverse multi-disciplinary work ranging from paintings, drawings, photography, and jewelry to collages (Taylor, 2004). Much of her art work can be traced back in 1953, whereby she specialized in small scale sculpture, pieces of jewelry through the use of wire, beads and metals materials. These works generated her some income which she used to sustain herself. She late came to the realm of publicity through the help of Walter Hopps, who was a curator at Ferus Gallery in Los Angela and who made her art work known (Smith, 2003). Later on she enjoined a group of artist who were known as The Beats and this made her to come to contact with renowned artist such as Bruce Conner.
Her known art work consist of about 150 art work, which she continuously dedicated to her entire being. Her idealism evolve around abstract ideas to expressionist, which she got inspired while in a journey in Paris after seeing the old-crumbled walls, which Paul (1976) says that the wall showed an abstract- expressionists paintings. She was a woman who was not satisfied with art for the sake of it but used an interactive process which entailed creating the images, breaking them down and restarting afresh to work on them, what Smith (2003) refers to as "Cliff hanging experience”.
She used to make use of things which were simple and attached to her daily life as Miller (2013) says included "the swimming goggles, camera tripods, shoe trees, a silver dish and broken items such as a tape dispenser and a cup handle" She also worked as a teacher at faculty of Mills College in Oakland in 1981, and this helped her to become financially stable. The teaching job hence enabled her produce large work using oil since her last working with The Rose in 1966.
She also made several voyage to African and Asia and through the journey she was able to communicate her world in form of visual forms of her painting, drawings, photographic and also collages. She is believed to have such clarity of vision which made her a unique artist of all times. Among her outstanding work include:-
The Rose (1958-66)
The monumental painting gave Jay DeFeo credit for her work, and through which a legacy of a visionary artist is depicted. She began working on it, in 1958 but before she had made a drawing of her own eyes, which she believed made her envision her subsequent art work in particular The Rose (Miller, 2013). Thereafter, Jay DeFeo set to work on her masterpiece, The Rose which she previously gave some symbolic names; The Death Rose which connoted darkness and The White Rose which connoted lightness, hence The Rose master piece was a twelve-fee- tall which was sculpted on thick oil (Traps, 2013). It symbolizes fullness of life. The master piece takes a spiral like shape at the centre, it is s covered up with thick paint that she continuously worked on until it took a sculptural appearance, which seemed to have deep cracks (Traps, 2013). Just like her other painting, The Incision and The Veronica. The compelling painting seems to bulge out from the canvas material which symbolically seems to push the viewer away from it. On the other side it has ridge like shapes, which diverges to the centre point.
Amazingly it weighs about 2000 pounds which made it more unique to other paintings. This great art work holds the centre balance of all her works which links her past works to her subsequent works (Paul 1976). This is shown by the way the ridges seem to diverge in the central focal point and also the painting bulges outward, which shows the interconnectivity of her entire retrospective art work. According to Miller (2013) one can only understand her comprehensive work by knowing what came before and after The Rose.
Jay DeFeo spent a good part of her eight years working on it and it took the eviction of her from the 2322 Fillmore Street home, for her to stop working on it. An eviction plan which Bruce Corner her fellow artist organized because he saw as the only way to stop her work on the master piece. (Smith 2003) Later on, the painting was kept away from the public eye for two decade, in the San Francisco at Pasadena Art Museum, after which it was safely taken to the Whitney’s Museum in New York where it is permanently part of the collection. The Rose had posed her and she couldn’t let go of it. It also saw the ending of her marriage which caused so much mental and emotional distress (Kennedy et al, 1962 ). It was recently installed at the Whitney’s Museum as part of the exhibition which was engineered by Dana Miller a curator at Whitney’s Museum appreciate the artist extra-ordinary work which was hardly known to the world.
After completion of the rose, she stopped working up to 1970, apart from The Rose, Jay DeFeo, also produced other art work, which included singular powerful drawings like a pair of her own eyes, which is seven-feet wide and which she drew from a photograph of her own eyes in 1958. The eyes are symbolic because in them Jae DeFeo was able to envision the art work that was to follow, paying particular attention to The Rose.
Other which entailed use of making short stroke across the canvas included The Annunciation (1957-59) and The Veronica (1957), they, just like The Rose which made use of painting which radiated from a central point, which foreshadowed her upcoming master piece of all time, The Rose (Yau 2013). The Annunciation which is a figurine of a large-scale composition showing a winged torso which is suggestive of an angel which Skestos (1999) described as containing a mixture of white, feathery which are overlaid with brown, blue as well as silver tones. The tones seem to ascend into a dark background. Just like other paintings she used the usual palette knife which made application of the thick paint lot easier. The Annunciation made the artist realize what goodness existed in the world, in relation to her power to create. (Sketos, 1999)
Other impressive pieces include; The Jewel (1959) which entailed painting thick layers of oil and build up of several inches off the surface of the canvass (Traps, 2013). Further, in the making of The Jewel she meticulously ensured that everything emerges from the centre with geometric, crystalline shape likes. She also she made use of red tones which were intertwined with brown tones that tends to mirror each other vertically on the canvas surface (Traps, 2013).
She was one of the artist who doesn’t get stuck in one way of doing things and often tended to experiment with new methods of creating art work, looking at The Incision (1958-1961), which doesn’t have a central focal point like others, shows her free nature in creation, rather she make use of diagonal orientations which stretch from the upper left corner up to the lower right side. She also used different coloring from the normal red to grey intertwined with black colors, she also reinforced the use of the massive oil paint, which gives the jewel one a lush kind of quality (Miller, 2013)
Having committed so much of her life on the rose, Jay DeFeo was emotionally distressed to be torn apart from the rose, this lead to her break away from painting and by extension to art work as she moved to Marin County, where she taught at the San Francisco Art Institute and largely made friends (Miller, 2013).
At her grand come back in 1970, she made a breathtaking work of The After Image, which symbolically indicated her come back since she completed her master piece of The Rose. Just like The Rose, it had ridges which tended to separate as they emerge from a focal central point, eventually forming a radiating figure (Smith, 2003).
She ...
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