DeFeo, who died in 1989, at age 60, is known for a single work, her astounding “Rose,” a monumental accretion of oil paint that consumed her for more than seven years. Working in her apartment on Fillmore Street, she applied pigment in gloppy impastos, then chiseled into the paint. What finally emerged was an 11-foot-tall, ash-gray slab incised with a central starburst radiating white lines. The piece (which, by a happy coincidence, is now on view in the permanent-collection galleries of the Whitney Museum of American Art) has a visionary energy and can put you in mind of William Blake’s blazing 19th-century suns.
In 1965, unable to afford a rent increase, DeFeo received an eviction notice. She worried that “The Rose” was unmovable. By then it weighed more than a ton and was too cumbersome to fit through the front door. Alternate plans were devised.... Several Bekins moving men in white jumpsuits pry “The Rose” from the wall and maneuver it out a bay window with a forklift as DeFeo sits disconsolately on a fire escape, smoking. “It was the end of ‘The Rose,’ and it was the end of Jay,” Conner said later in an interview.... She ceased working for several years,
Category: Art | Excess, Overkill, Hyperbole and Too Much Is Not Enough | Bohemians, Beatniks, Hippies and Slackers | 1960s