10 September - 22 October 2011


In the first West Coast exhibition of Jay DeFeo's art in fifteen years, Hosfelt Gallery presents a focused investigation of some of the formal and metaphoric themes that run through various bodies of work made in the two decades between the completion of her legendary painting The Rose and her death in 1989. The exhibition includes approximately 40 works, including paintings, drawings and unique photographic-based works, many of which have never previously been exhibited. A publication with an introduction by Todd Hosfelt and an essay by Stephanie Hanor, Director of the Mills College Art Museum, accompanies the exhibition. DeFeo fearlessly experimented with media and form, but the tremendous variety in her work made in the 1970s and 1980s is unified by both her creative process and her consistent use of a visual vocabulary that has, at its essence, the triangle, spiral and circle. Her works were often modeled on everyday 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. DeFeo's willingness to push boundaries is evidenced in a group of rare and exquisite works made with a photocopy machine. Objects were arranged and rearranged on the bed of the machine to create works that exist somewhere between photographs and photograms. DeFeo then took a form from the photocopies and worked it into a series of totemic charcoal and acrylic works on paper that both refer back to several of her works from the 1950s and presage work she would make just before her death nine years later. A major traveling retrospective of Jay DeFeo's work, organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, will be presented at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in the autumn of 2012. Jay DeFeo's art works are in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Art Institute of Chicago, the British Museum, Centre Pompidou, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum, The Menil Collection and many others.

Bride, 1986