Jay DeFeo


1929, Hanover, New Hampshire
1989, Oakland, Bay Area

Audio Stories

Get a glimpse of DeFeo’s obsessive process

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Jay DeFeo’s obsessive artistic process drove her to edge of reason and eventually caused her demise. In this excerpt she explains her unparalleled drive.  


NARRATOR (reading DeFeo’s quote):  

“I’m sure everyone thinks I’m a hopeless eccentric—to go on day after day—trying. Yet in spite of overwhelming periods of almost resigning myself to the same conclusion—still there is some spark of hope that sustains me, some small certainty that all the millions of changes and decisions I have made on this canvas have been done for a good reason, that there really is the right conclusion ahead—how far ahead I still can’t determine; yet I believe in this. 


“You see, it isn’t a matter of perfectionism, of course I want it to be as perfect as possible (I am not a hopeless perfectionist. Nothing you have of mine is perfect. But I know it is the best I can do with the idea.) Yet what I speak of is the proper structural solution, for which I still strive. Somehow there has been a reason for all the grotesque mistakes I have made—all the boxes and boxes of paint I have put on and torn down again.”

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