COREYKELLER: The Verónica is one of DeFeo’s most important, and to my mind, most beautiful paintings.
NARRATOR: Corey Keller is Associate Curator of Photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
COREYKELLER: Instead of a brush, she’s moving paint with a knife, so there’s a physicality to the process that’s really beautifully visible. You can see the way the paint is pushed. She starts at the top left corner and works her way down to the bottom right hand corner. Since it’s such a large canvas, one false move and she would have had to start all over.
NARRATOR: When she was traveling in Europe in the early 1950s, DeFeo witnessed a bullfight in Barcelona. She was deeply struck by its beauty, as well as its horror. She named this painting after one of the traditional moves that a bullfighter makes during the event. Jay DeFeo in 1980.
JAYDEFEO: I called this one Verónica after the bullfighting pass, because it, not because it had anything to do with bullfighting exactly but because it has a lyric quality that the swing of the cape has. Also it’s kind of a floral, it has a kind of a plant-like reminiscence.
NARRATOR: The title of this piece may also be a spiritual reference. Tap your screen to hear more.