Jay DeFeo
The Verónica, 1957

Artwork Info

Artwork title
The Verónica
Artist name
Jay DeFeo
Date created
oil on canvas
132 in. × 42 3/8 in. (335.28 cm × 107.63 cm)
Date acquired
Collection SFMOMA
Gift of Irving Blum
© The Jay DeFeo Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Permanent URL
Artwork status
On view on floor 2 as part of Open Ended: SFMOMA's Collection, 1900 to Now

Audio Stories

DeFeo on how bullfighting inspired her painting

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The Verónica is one of DeFeo’s most important, and to my mind, most beautiful paintings.  



Corey Keller is Curator of Photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art 



Instead of a brush, she’s moving a paint with an actual knife. There’s a physicality to the process that’s really beautifully visible. You can see the way the paint is pushed. She starts at the top left corner and works her way down to the bottom right hand corner. Since it’s such a large canvas, one false move and she would have had to start all over. She talked about how fearful she was about the process because it was so easy to mess it up. 



When she was traveling in Europe in the early 1950s, DeFeo witnessed a bullfight in Barcelona. She was deeply struck by its beauty, as well as its horror. She named this painting after one of the traditional moves that a bullfighter makes during the event. Jay DeFeo in 1980. 



I called this one Verónica after the bullfighting pass, because it, not because it had anything to do with bullfighting exactly but because it has a lyric quality that the swing of the cape has. Also its kind of a floral, it has a kind of a plant-like reminiscence.  

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Other Works by Jay DeFeo

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