Untitled (Shoetree series), 1977
Gagosian Quarterly, November 12, 2020
“Jay DeFeo’s Transcendent Objects”
By Alice Godwin
When Jay DeFeo transformed the screened porch of her home at 29 Millard Road in Larkspur, California, into a studio in 1969, she had been without a devoted space for making art for nearly four years. This break in her creative practice followed her completion of The Rose (1958−66)—a landmark work of encrusted impasto so colossal, it required a forklift to extract it from DeFeo’s San Francisco apartment. With The Rose’s departure, DeFeo felt she needed time “to restore some kind of equilibrium.”1 Among the subjects that drew her back to the studio during the 1970s were an array of curiosities from daily life—a pair of swimming goggles, a shoe tree, a broken tape dispenser, erasers from her studio. Comforting to DeFeo and at ease in their surroundings in Larkspur, these familiar objects gradually filled constellations of drawings, paintings, photographs, and photocollages. Not only intimately connected to the body through their scale, form, and use, they also seemed to possess multiple personalities, like close friends, with their own desires and needs.