Jay DeFeo at the Whitney

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A review of Jay DeFeo: A Retrospective at the Whitney Museum of Art, New York, on view through June 2, 2013.

"The current retrospective… is not only about The Rose, though it is the heart of the installation… this show provides a broader view of the artist and demonstrates the range of DeFeo’s considerable oeuvre. Her early work, The Rose, and her late work, when seen together, argue persuasively for her inclusion in the Abstract Expressionist canon."

"The exhibition opens abruptly with the revelation that DeFeo was a natural talent from the outset. She worked with inspiration and purpose from the beginning. Her early work, on view in the first gallery, suggests an innate religiosity, a penchant for mixing media, and a Picasso-like facility with forms – natural skills she cultivated throughout her career. A series of early painted cruciforms morph into birds and kites. These 'kites,' are freely painted with a joyful touch, yet they are also un-flyable and foreboding."

"One leaves Jay DeFeo’s retrospective startled at how flawed the first draft of art history can be. It is heartening, however, to know that with this exhibition a great painter will begin to receive the attention she deserves. DeFeo and The Rose live up to the myth."

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