NARRATOR: Dana Miller discusses this 1955 painting.
DANAMILLER: It’s called Landscape with Figure, which is interesting because it would be, in traditional terms, probably considered a still life. But for her, she ignores the still life and treats the composition—the figurative element—as a portrait set within a landscape. The landscape is divided. It’s a white portion and a red/orange portion at the top.
NARRATOR: The vase is also composed of simple geometric shapes, which form a clean-edged container. But the paint handling in the petals is more expressive and the flowers appear somewhat unruly.There is this conflict within her work between this very refined, classical strict composition and this very loose, intuitive expressionist way of working.
In some cases she tries to reconcile those two things within one work. In some cases she’ll make two works and one will be on one end of the spectrum and the other will be at the other end of the spectrum. But I look at this composition as having both elements within one painting.
NARRATOR: This painting belongs to Fred Martin, whom DeFeo met in art school in the 1940s. Tap your screen to hear him talk about this painting.