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© 2012 The Jay DeFeo Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Photograph by M. Lee Fatherree

Jay DeFeo: A Retrospective, opens today at the Whitney and features nearly 150 of DeFeo’s works, many of which will be exhibited for the first time. The show traces motifs and themes the artist examined throughout her career in drawings, photographs, collages, jewelry, and the monumental paintings for which she is best known. The exhibition is organized by Dana Miller, curator of the permanent collection at the Whitney, and will be on view in the fourth-floor Emily Fisher Landau Galleries through June 2, 2013.

Always eager to work with new media, DeFeo began to explore photography. A 1973 National Endowment for the Arts grant allowed her to buy a medium-format camera and install a darkroom in her home. She incorporated her photographs into highly inventive collages. These works, much like her paintings and drawings, were the result of an iterative process of building an image, breaking it down, and then reworking it again. This open-ended and labor intensive process, which the artist described as a “cliff-hanging experience,” allowed for highly expressionistic forms and an astonishing range of surfaces.

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    a line dance song that has a lyric about the fan blowing on the table…can’t remember the name…
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