Whitney Museum of American Art

On Saturday, I went to Whitney Museum of American Art. It is a museum in New York that has 8 floors and has a focus on 20th- and 21st-century American art, with more than 3 thousands artists and more than 21,000 pieces, including photographs, sculptures, paintings, etc.

My favorite piece was:


The Rose

Artist: Jay DeFeo (1929-1989)
Title: The Rose
Date: 1958-66
Medium: Oil with wood and mica on canvas
Dimensions Overall: 128 7/8 × 92 1/4 × 11 in. (327.3 × 234.3 × 27.9 cm)

Object Label

“Jay DeFeo began this monumental work simply as an “idea that had a center to it.” Initially, the painting measured approximately 9 x 7 feet and was called Deathrose, but in 1959, the artist transferred the work onto a larger canvas with the help of friends. She continued to work onThe Rose for the next seven years, applying thick paint, then chiseling it away, inserting wooden dowels to help support the heavier areas of impasto. Now nearly eleven feet tall and weighing almost a ton, the work’s dense, multi-layered surface became, in DeFeo’s words, “a marriage between painting and sculpture.”

First exhibited in 1969, The Rose was taken to the San Francisco Art Institute, where it was covered with plaster for support and protection, and finally stored behind the wall of a conference room. Legend grew about the painting, but it remained sealed until 1995, when Whitney curator Lisa Phillips had it excavated and restored by a team of conservators, who created a backing strong enough to support the heavy paint. DeFeo resisted offering an explanation or interpretation of the work, although she did acknowledge that despite the work’s enormous size and rough surfaces, there was a connection to “the way actual rose petals are formed and how they relate to each other in the flower.””


Can you believe it? It took her 8 years to finish this paster piece and weights more than a ton. It was so consuming for Jay Defeo that she took a break of 4 years after the creation of The Rose. You can actually see the making of “The Rose” in a short film by Bruce Connor entitled “The White Rose”.   I’m definitely going to watch it.

In case you want to see a short video of The Rose:  Jay Defeo’s The Rose

1 Comment

  1. Jeff

    there is a place not far from here where a stone working artist created a massive landscape over the course of his life. You should maybe plan a visit – it’s called OPUS 40. http://www.opus40.org

Comments are closed.

Next ArticleGetting here! Memories...