san-francisco

Jay DeFeo working on The Rose, 1958–66,
in her Fillmore Street studio, 1960. Photo: Burt Glinn.

Jay DeFeo

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

Jay DeFeo working on The Rose, 1958–66,
in her Fillmore Street studio, 1960. Photo: Burt Glinn.

Jay DeFeo labored obsessively over her legendary painting The Rose, nearly exclusively from 1958 to 1966. The work became so dense with pigment during those eight years that when she and her husband, Wally Hedrick, were evicted from their Fillmore Street apartment in 1965, a hole had to be cut in the side of the building to extricate the enormous canvas. The painting was thought to weigh almost a ton. (In The White Rose, a short, lyrical film from 1967 by Bruce Conner, a forlorn DeFeo is shown dangling her legs over the fire escape as a moving truck drives her painting away.) Formally exhibited only twice during the artist’s lifetime before being stored in a conference room at the San Francisco Art Institute, where it was sealed off by a layer of “protective” plaster that was soon graffitied and ultimately hidden behind a temporary wall, the painting was finally exhumed in 1994,

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