Tag Archives: Jay DeFeo

Jay DeFeo

DeFeo in her San Francisco apartment, at work on “The Rose” in 1960. Photograph by Burt Glinn / Magnum

Jay DeFeo Checklist:

A. Solo and Select Group Exhibitions


Jay DeFeo was born in 1929 in Hanover, New Hampshire, and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received a bachelor’s degree in 1950 and a master’s in 1951, both in studio art, from the University of California, Berkeley. Upon graduation, she was awarded a fellowship and traveled to Europe and North Africa for a year and a half, settling in Florence for six months. There, DeFeo worked intensively on what became her first significant body of work, influenced by Abstract Expressionism, the geometry of Italian architecture, and her ongoing fascination with Asian, African, and prehistoric art.

Returning to Northern California in 1953, DeFeo became a pivotal figure in the historic San Francisco community of artists, poets, and jazz musicians at the time. The art she began making in the mid-1950s incorporated the dualities of representation and abstraction, organic rhythms and geometric form, refinement and expressionism. DeFeo worked with unorthodox materials to explore the broadest definitions of sculpture, drawing, collage, and painting.

In 1959 DeFeo’s first major solo exhibition was held at the Dilexi Gallery in San Francisco, the same year that DeFeo’s art, along with that of Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, Louise Nevelson, and others, was included in Dorothy Miller’s momentous exhibition Sixteen Americans at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Walter Hopps and Irving Blum at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles mounted her next solo exhibition in 1960.

In 1958 DeFeo began work on “an idea that had a center to it”(1) and almost eight years later, in 1966, completed The Rose, a monumental work created with so much oil paint that she called it “a marriage between painting and sculpture.”(2) To concentrate completely on The Rose, DeFeo essentially withdrew from the art world for much of the 1960s, turning down offers of new gallery affiliations and solo exhibitions. The Rose was first exhibited in 1969 at the Pasadena Art Museum.

DeFeo moved to Marin County, near San Francisco, in 1966 and, exhausted, took a break from making art until late 1969. With renewed energy, DeFeo investigated new materials, invented applications, and became deeply involved with photography. Often her subjects were favored domestic oddities, which she transformed into images that, in her words, “transcend the definition of the objects from which they are derived.”(3) A master draftsman and painter, DeFeo was also an ardent experimenter, allowing her to create an idiosyncratic cross-disciplinary oeuvre. Working in series to examine divergent possibilities, she at times referred to images from earlier periods, as well as works she imagined still to come. Toward the end of the 1970s, DeFeo’s art reemerged in the public arena in gallery and museum exhibitions.

In 1981 DeFeo moved from Marin County to Oakland, after accepting a position teaching painting at Mills College, where she became a tenured professor five years later. She traveled frequently, often titling works and series after anticipated or remembered travels. While continuing to mix and assemble materials in her works on paper, collages, photocopies, and photographs as well as in her paintings and drawings, DeFeo returned to oil for the first time since completing The Rose, creating both large, glowing canvases and small, delicate paintings on paper and linen or canvas, many reflecting the themes that inspired her in the 1950s.

DeFeo was diagnosed with cancer in the spring of 1988 but continued to work prolifically until she was forced to vacate her Oakland studio in October 1989 because of damage from the Loma Prieta earthquake. She died on November 11, 1989, at the age of 60.

Since her death, not only has DeFeo’s work been featured in museum and gallery exhibitions, but the body of serious scholarship considering her significance in twentieth-century art has consistently grown.

1 Paul Karlstrom, “Interview with Jay DeFeo,” 23 January 1976, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, part 3.

2 Douglas M. Davis, “Miss DeFeo’s Awesome Painting Is Like Living Thing under Decay,” National Observer (14 July 1969): 16.

3 Jay DeFeo, letter to Henry Hopkins, 21 June 1978 (Corr0564), archives of the Jay DeFeo Trust.


Online Resources:

The Jay DeFeo Foundation

Jay DeFeo – Solo and Select Group Exhibitions

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This index collects solo and select group exhibitions; gallery, dates, location, catalog, and ephemera information provided, when available…


1953

Jay DeFeo
[solo exhibition]
Freeland Gallery, San Francisco


1954

Jay DeFeo
[solo exhibition]
The Place, San Francisco

Jay DeFeo, Paintings/Jewelry
[solo exhibition]
Dover Gallery, Berkeley


1955

Second Annual Group Show
[group exhibition]
The Six Gallery, San Francisco


1956

Action 2: Works by West Coast Painters
[group exhibition]
Syndell Studio, Now Gallery, Los Angeles


1957

Objects on the New Landscape Demanding of the Eye
[group exhibition]
Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles

Altoon, Bengston, DeFeo, DeForest, Dixon, Gechtoff, Henderson, Lobdell, Richer, Smith, Wasserstein, Kauffman, Bartosh, Sarkisian, Irene and Gerd Koch
[group exhibition]
Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles


1958

Altoon, Kienholz, DeFeo
[group exhibition]
Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles

Altoon, Bengston, DeFeo, DeForest, Dixon, Johnson, Kauffman, Kienholz, Lobdell, Moses, Richer, Smith, Wasserstein
[group exhibition]
Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles

Opening Group Show: Works by Joel Barletta, J. DeFeo, Richard Diebenkorn, Sidney Geist, Muriel Goodwin, Craig Kauffman, Frank Lobdell, Robert Morris, Edward Branco Moses, Manuel Neri, Irving Petlin, Philip Roeber, Hassel Smith
[group exhibition]
Dilexi Gallery, San Francisco

John Altoon, Billy Al Bengston, Jay DeFeo, Roy De Forest, James Budd Dixon, Muriel Francis, Craig Kauffman, Ed Moses, Arthur Richer, Irene Taverner, Sam Tchakalian, Julius Wasserstein, Dion Vigne
[group exhibition]
Dilexi Gallery, San Francisco


1959

J. DeFeo: Drawings, Collages, Paintings
[solo exhibition]
Dilexi Gallery, San Francisco

Altoon, Bengston, DeFeo, Gechtoff, Irwin, Kauffman, Kienholz, Mason, Moses, Lobdell, Smith, Richer
[group exhibition]
Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles

Tribute to Mrs. Leonid Gechtoff
[group exhibition]
Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles

1st Anniversary Group Show
[group exhibition]
Dilexi Gallery, San Francisco

Group Show: Barletta, DeFeo, De Forest, Kanter, Kauffman, Moses, Neri, Remington, Roeber, Smith, Tchakalian, Valledor
[group exhibition]
Dilexi Gallery, San Francisco

Group Show: Small Works in Varied Media
[group exhibition]
Dilexi Gallery, San Francisco


1960

Jay DeFeo
[solo exhibition]
Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles

John Altoon, Billy Al Bengston, J. DeFeo, Sonia Gechtoff, Robert Irwin, Craig Kauffman, Edward Kienholz, Frank Lobdell, John Mason, Edward “Branco” Moses, Ken Price, Richards Ruben, Hassel Smith
[group exhibition]
Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles

Gangbang
[group exhibition]
Batman Gallery, San Francisco

Group Show: Anderson, Barletta, DeFeo, De Forest, Gordin, Jess, Kauffman, Kerr, Light, Moses, Neri, Remington, Roeber, Smith, Tchakalian, Trave
[group exhibition]
Dilexi Gallery, San Francisco


1961

John Altoon, Billy Al Bengston, Sonia Gechtoff, Jay DeFeo, Robert Irwin, Edward Kienholz, Frank Lobdell, John Mason, Kenneth Price, Richards Ruben, Hassel Smith
[group exhibition]
Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles

A Selection of Drawings by Jeremy Anderson, J. DeFeo, Roy De Forest, Norman Kanter, Craig Kauffman, Leslie Kerr, Frank Lobdell, Edward Moses, Manuel Neri, Deborah Remington, San Tchakalian
[group exhibition]
Dilexi Gallery, San Francisco

Group Show
[group exhibition]
Dilexi Gallery, San Francisco, CA


1963

Group Exhibition: Altoon, Bell, Bengston, DeFeo, Irwin, Kauffman, Lobdell, Mason, Moses, Price, Ruben, Ruscha
[group exhibition]
Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles


1966

Nine California Artists: Abstract Expressionists
[group exhibition]
Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena


1968

Late Fifties at the Ferus
[group exhibition]
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles


1969

The Rose: J. DeFeo
[solo exhibition]
Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena

The Rose: J. DeFeo
[solo exhibition]
San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco


1974

Jay DeFeo: Paintings
[solo exhibition]
Wenger Gallery, San Francisco


1975

Jay DeFeo
[solo exhibition]
Isabelle Percy West Gallery, California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland

Art as a Muscular Principle/10 Artists and San Francisco 1950–1965 (Roots and New Directions)
[group exhibition]
John and Norah Warbeke Gallery, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley


1976

The Last Time I Saw Ferus 1957–1966
[group exhibition]
Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach


1978

MATRIX/BERKELEY 11: Jay DeFeo
[solo exhibition]
University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley


1979

Jay DeFeo
[solo exhibition]
Faith and Charity in Hope Gallery, Hope


1980

Jay DeFeo
[solo exhibition]
Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco

Jay DeFeo
[solo exhibition]
Whitman College, Walla Walla


1981

Jay DeFeo
[solo exhibition]
Indian Valley Colleges, Novato


1983

Jay DeFeo
[solo exhibition]
Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco


1984

Jay DeFeo
[solo exhibition]
Boise Gallery of Art, Boise

Jay DeFeo: Selected Works, Past and Present
[solo exhibition]
San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco


1985

Jay DeFeo
[solo exhibition]
Janus Gallery, Los Angeles


1986

Jay DeFeo/Madeline O’Connor: Paintings and Drawings
The Nave Museum, Victoria


1988

Jay DeFeo: Paintings and Works on Paper
[solo exhibition]
Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco

Jay DeFeo: Paintings and Works on Paper
[solo exhibition]
Jan Turner Gallery, Los Angeles


1989

Jay DeFeo: In Memoriam—A Selection of Paintings, 1986–1989
[solo exhibition]
Flora Lamson Hewlett Library, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley


1990

Jay DeFeo: Works on Paper
[solo exhibition]
University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley

Jay DeFeo: Works on Paper
[solo exhibition]
The Menil Collection, Houston

Jay DeFeo: Works on Paper
[solo exhibition]
Laguna Beach Art Museum, Laguna Beach

Jay DeFeo: Works on Paper
[solo exhibition]
Fresno Art Museum, Fresno

Jay DeFeo: Works on Paper
[solo exhibition]
Krannert Art Museum, Champaign

Jay DeFeo, An Intimate View: Small Paintings 1986–1989
[solo exhibition]
Art Museum of Santa Cruz County, Santa Cruz

Jay DeFeo, An Intimate View: Small Paintings 1986–1989
[solo exhibition]
Antonio Prieto Memorial Gallery, Mills College, Oakland

Homage to Jay DeFeo
[solo exhibition]
Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco


1991

Jay DeFeo: 1980s Paintings
[solo exhibition]
Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco

Jay DeFeo: 1950s Works on Paper
[solo exhibition]
Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco


1992

Jay DeFeo: Photocollages
[solo exhibition]
Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco


1993

Jay DeFeo: Works on Paper from the 1950s
[solo exhibition]
Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York City


1994

Jay DeFeo: Drawings and Photocollages from the 1970s
[solo exhibition]
Kohn Turner Gallery, Los Angeles


1996

Jay DeFeo: Four Decades
[solo exhibition]
John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco

Jay DeFeo: Dibujos y Foto-collages
[solo exhibition]
Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporaneo, San José de Costa Rica

Jay DeFeo: Selected Works 1952–1989
[solo exhibition]
Goldie Paley Gallery, Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia

Jay DeFeo: Selected Works 1952–1989
[solo exhibition]
University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley


1997

Jay DeFeo: The Florence View and Related Works 1950–1954
[solo exhibition]
Museo Italo-Americano, San Francisco

Jay DeFeo: The Florence View and Related Works 1950–1954
[solo exhibition]
Kohn Turner Gallery, Los Angeles

Jay DeFeo: The Florence View and Related Works 1950–1954
[solo exhibition]
The Rose, Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley


2001

Jay DeFeo: “Doctor Jazz” and Works on Paper 1952–1989
[solo exhibition]
Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Utah State University, Logan


2002

Jay DeFeo: Photographs
[solo exhibition]
Cabrillo College Art Gallery, Cabrillo College, Aptos

Jay DeFeo: Ingredients of Alchemy, Before and After “The Rose”
[solo exhibition]
Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York City


2003

Beside “The Rose”: Selected Works by Jay DeFeo
[solo exhibition]
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City

Jay DeFeo: Her Tripod and Its Dress
[solo exhibition]
Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York City


2004

“out of my own head:” Photographs by Jay DeFeo
[solo exhibition]
Mills College Art Museum, Oakland

“out of my own head:” Photographs by Jay DeFeo
[solo exhibition]
Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, South Hadley


2006

Jay DeFeo: No End and Botanicals
[solo exhibition]
Dwight Hackett Projects, Santa Fe


2007

Jay DeFeo: “Applaud the Black Fact,”
[solo exhibition]
Nielsen Gallery, Boston


2008

Where the Swan Flies
[solo exhibition]
Moody Gallery, Houston


2009

Jay DeFeo: Samurai
[solo exhibition]
Dwight Hackett projects, Santa Fe


2010

Jay DeFeo: Photographs/Works on Paper
[solo exhibition]
Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York City

Jay DeFeo: Summer Landscape
[solo exhibition]
Dwight Hackett projects, Santa Fe


2011

DEFEO
[solo exhibition]
Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco


2012

Jay DeFeo: Mechanics
[solo exhibition]
Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco

Jay DeFeo: A Retrospective
[solo exhibition]
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco

Jay DeFeo: A Retrospective
[solo exhibition]
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City


2013

Jay DeFeo: Chiaroscuro
[solo exhibition]
Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich


2014

Jay DeFeo
[solo exhibition]
Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York City


2015

Jay DeFeo – A Rose Is a Flame Is a Sun Is a Dove
[solo exhibition]
Peder Lund, Oslo

Jay DeFeo: Alter Ego
[solo exhibition]
Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco


2016

Jay DeFeo
[solo exhibition]
Galerie Frank Elbaz, Paris

Jay DeFeo: Paintings on Paper 1986–1987
[solo exhibition]
Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles


2018

Outrageous Fortune: Jay DeFeo and Surrealism
[solo exhibition]
Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York City

Object Lessons | Jay DeFeo: Works on Paper from the 1970s
[solo exhibition]
Galerie Frank Elbaz, Dallas

Jay DeFeo: The Texture of Color
[solo exhibition]
Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Beverly Hills


2019

Undersoul: Jay DeFeo
[solo exhibition]
San José Museum of Art, San José

Jay DeFeo: The Language of Gesture
[solo exhibition]
Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Beverly Hills