Jay DeFeo

American (Hanover, New Hampshire, 1929 - 1989, Oakland, California)

Incision

1958-1961
painting | oil and string on canvas mounted on board
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  • Incision

    Jay DeFeo, Incision, 1958-1961; oil and string on canvas mounted on board, 118 in. x 55 5/8 in. x 9 3/8 in. (299.72 cm x 141.29 cm x 23.81 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Purchase with the aid of funds from the Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art; © The Jay DeFeo Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Although Jay DeFeo identified herself as a painter, she recognized that her artwork "could more accurately be described as a combination of painting and sculpture. I consider the aspects of each inseparable and interdependent, the process being one of building and carving, but always in reference to the properties of paint as a medium."

This heroically sized painting teeters on the brink of sculpture, with more than five hundred pounds of paint encrusted on its surface. Applying layer after layer of oil pigment to canvas, then scraping or dragging a trowel through the paint with broad strokes, DeFeo produced crags and crevices that reveal ragged textures and underlying layers of color, suggesting built-up geological sediment. With dangling strings indicative of sinews, the work invokes a sense of living or decaying tissue.

Often conceiving of works in small groups, DeFeo initially designed Incision as the left-hand panel of a triptych. A broad V would have extended across all three canvases, with a green heart spanning the middle and right sections. Prone to laboring endlessly over her creations, she ultimately abandoned the project; the center panel was lost or destroyed and the right one never completed.


118 in. x 55 5/8 in. x 9 3/8 in. (299.72 cm x 141.29 cm x 23.81 cm)
Acquired 1967
Collection SFMOMA
Purchase with the aid of funds from the Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art
© The Jay DeFeo Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
67.89

Tags

abstract, drips, impasto, texture


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