NARRATOR: Not long after completing The Rose, DeFeo moved to a small cottage in Marin County, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. Exhausted by her labor on The Rose, she ceased making art for nearly four years. This mixed media drawing, After Image, was one of the first works she made following her hiatus. DeFeo based its central image on a photographic reproduction in a book about shells. In some ways, it presents a stark contrast with The Rose.
DANAMILLER: It’s small scale, it’s intimate, it’s flat, except for the torn tracing paper that is layered on top of it.
NARRATOR: In calling this work After Image, DeFeo suggests that it depends on something that came before. After eight years painting The Rose, she could hardly have made this composition—with its central aperture and radiating lines—without thinking of her masterwork. But the materials and the overall effect are very different.
DANAMILLER: It’s very illusionistic. It’s primarily acrylic paint, and rather than letting the image emerge out of the process of painting, she has located a source image and has chosen to depict it with a highly mimetic, realistic quality. That approach sets the tone and really outlines the approach of much of her work for the next, I would say, five or six years.