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The Rose


Jay DeFeo, The Rose, 1958–66. Oil with wood and mica on canvas, 128 7/8 × 92 1/4 × 11 in. (327.3 × 234.3 × 27.9 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of the Estate of Jay DeFeo and purchase with funds from the Contemporary Painting and Sculpture Committee and the Judith Rothschild Foundation  95.170
© 2009 The Jay DeFeo Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Jay DeFeo began this work as an “idea that had a center to it.” At first, the painting measured approximately 9 feet tall by 7 feet wide and was called Deathrose, but after she had been working on it for about a year, DeFeo transferred the work onto a larger canvas with the help of friends. She continued to work on The Rose for the next seven years, applying thick oil paint with palette knives and trowels, then scraping it away. Eventually the work became like both a painting and a sculpture.

Jay DeFeo changed the title of The Rose as she was making it. First she called it Deathrose, then The White Rose, and finally The Rose.

 “When I started The Rose, I had no notion of the rose about it. The title came later. It was just a painting. And all I knew about it was that it was going to have a center.”

—Jay DeFeo

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Installing The Rose

What does it take to exhibit a work of art that weighs almost a ton? Check out this slide show of installing The Rose at the Whitney. Paula Court took pictures of the installation from start to finish.

On February 15, 2013, The Rose arrived in New York from California, where it had just been shown at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

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Work height: 10'8"
Kid height: 4'0"
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