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Jay DeFeo

The Eyes

Not on view



Graphite pencil on paper

Sheet (Sight): 42 × 84 3/4in. (106.7 × 215.3 cm)

Accession number

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of the Lannan Foundation

Rights and reproductions
© The Jay DeFeo Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

One of several works in which Jay DeFeo addresses the act of seeing, either through title or subject matter, The Eyes was inspired by a photograph of the artist. DeFeo later spoke of The Eyes as having “something of a prophetic meaning,” a precursor to her envisioning her signature work, The Rose (1958-66). Apart from personal references, DeFeo's ambitious sense of scale, along with the numerous vertical striations and erasures across the disembodied eyes, make this image of a familiar subject arresting and unexpected. DeFeo inscribed the back of this drawing with a stanza from a poem by Beat poet Philip Lamantia: “Tell him I have eyes only for Heaven as I look to you Queen Mirror of the Heavenly Court.”  

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