Throughout a career spanning nearly 40 years, Jay DeFeo (1929-1989) scrutinized objects from her daily life, then re-imagined them, often over and over again, in an effort to conceive new possibilities of seeing and achieve new depths of cognition. Her works were often modeled on mundane objects - a draftsman's compass, a Scotch Tape dispenser, a Kleenex box - which she'd engage and explore repeatedly and profoundly - examining, representing, reassessing, excising, building up, collaging, painting over, then beginning again on a blank canvas or fresh sheet of paper, moving between representation and abstraction and back.


On one level, the exploration was an opportunity to playfully investigate formal motifs that fascinated her throughout her life. More significantly, these works are meditations on the object - a dedicated effort to transcend the ordinary and discover the mystical.


A major traveling retrospective of Jay DeFeo's work, organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, opened at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in November 2012 and traveled to the Whitney Museum in February 2013.


All images copyright The Jay DeFeo Foundation/Artists Rights Society/ARS, New York

Untitled, 1973

Untitled (Eternal Triangle series), 1980

Untitled, 1973

Untitled, 1976

Reflections of Africa, 1987

Untitled, 1973

Untitled, 1986

Untitled, 1971

Untitled, 1980

Untitled, 1973