JAY DEFEO | Untitled, 1973 | gelatin silver print, mounted by the artist
Sold for $16,250 at the Under the Influence contemporary art sale, 8 March 2013, New York.
Jay DeFeo’s Untitled, 1973, is but a small window into the artist’s impressively vast and dynamic oeuvre. Her unconventional approach to materials and mediums as well as her intensely physical working method make DeFeo a unique and intriguing figure in postwar American art.
Consisting of collages, drawings, paintings, photographs, sculptures, and jewelry, the artistic output by DeFeo is widely diverse and almost endless, although she is best known today for a handful of very important works. One such work, named after a Glenn Miller composition, is Tuxedo Junction, 1965-1974, from which this work is derived.
For this visually complex piece, DeFeo removed torn pieces of painted paper she had amassed in her San Francisco home many years. She sprayed these fragments of collected paper with fixative to include moments of dust and dirt, singed the matted materials, and subsequently constructed them onto a triptych of panels, similar to the renowned burned-paper series artist John Cage would later create. Untitled, 1973, depicts an exquisite close-up detail of the large work from which it is inspired, giving the viewer a dramatic taste of the original work’s textural intricacy and fascinating beauty, as well as a direct link to DeFeo’s brilliantly intensive process.
Jay DeFeo: A Retrospective is currently showing at the Whitney Museum of Art.