Magazine article Artforum International

Jay DeFeo: Galerie Frank Elbaz

Magazine article Artforum International

Jay DeFeo: Galerie Frank Elbaz

Article excerpt

PARIS

Jay DeFeo

GALERIE FRANK ELBAZ

In 1951, just after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, and before settling into San Francisco's vibrant Beat community-where her cohorts included Allen Ginsberg, Wallace Berman, and Bruce Conner--Jay DeFeo traveled to Europe and North Africa on a fellowship. Bringing attention to rarely seen works from this prolific period, DeFeo's first solo show in Paris featured two drawings made in this city in 1951, presented in the company of twenty-two paintings, collages, drawings, and photographs made between 1972 and 1987 (all lent by the Jay DeFeo Foundation). The budding artist's experiments laid important groundwork for her genre-busting, media-mixing oeuvre.

Made on a humble piece of torn brown kraft, Untitled (Paris), 1951, is an abstract black-ink-and-white-chalk drawing whose rough edges and scored surface suggest an excised cave painting. The work's artifactual quality makes it impossible to consider it in wholly two--or three-dimensional terms: It is adamantly both image and object. Similar material and conceptual fusions and contradictions inspired DeFeo throughout her career. In Untitled (Tripod series), 1975, one of many portraits of her camera stand made between 1975 and 1977, a roughly hewn hole at the center of a graphite-and-acrylic composition beckons to a realm beyond. Instead of dissolving or disowning the picture plane, however, DeFeo fills the void with a black paper backing. More complex than Lucio Fontana's slashed canvases, DeFeo's meta-paintings refute objecthood with painterly allegiances to flatness and, in some cases, even figuration. The most sculptural painting on view was Pend O'Reille No. 2 (Eternal Triangle series), 1980. To create its subtly undulated surface, DeFeo added layers of black, white, and gray paint as well as collaged elements to a Masonite panel and then sanded down and carved into certain areas. …

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