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DeFeo, Jay, 1929-1989  Search this
Berman, Shirley  Search this
Berman, Wallace, 1926-1976  Search this
Blum, Irving, 1930-  Search this
Conner, Bruce  Search this
Hedrick, Wally, 1928-2003  Search this
Lobdell, Frank, 1921-  Search this
McClure, Michael  Search this
Peterson, Margaret, 1903-  Search this
Remington, Deborah  Search this
Sinton, Nell, 1910-1997  Search this
Terrill, Ruth  Search this
1.3 Linear feet
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
circa 1940s-1970s
The papers of artist Jay DeFeo measure 1.3 linear feet and date from circa 1940s to circa 1970s. The collection documents her career through biographical material, correspondence with friends, personal business records, writings, printed material, artwork, and photographs.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of artist Jay DeFeo measure 1.3 linear feet and date from circa 1940s to circa 1970s. The collection documents her career through biographical material, correspondence with friends, personal business records, writings, printed material, artwork, and photographs. About half of the collection is made up of correspondence and photographs. DeFeo maintained ongoing communications with many artists, friends, and business associates. Notable correspondence is with Wallace and Shirley Berman, Irving Blum/Ferus Gallery, Bruce Conner, Frank Lobdell, Fred Martin, Michael McClure, Margaret Peterson, Deborah Remington, Ruth Terrill, and Eleanor (Nell) Sinton. The photographs document her adult years, although there are some as a teenager. DeFeo, her artist husband Wally Hedrick, and friends appear in many of the images. The remainder of the collection includes printed materials, exhibition information, some writings and some limited artwork. The collection is particularly rich in documentation on her artwork, The Rose.
The collection is arranged as 7 series Series 1: Biographical material, 1948-1969 (1 folder; Box 1) Series 2: Correspondence, 1960-1970s (0.3 linear feet; Box 1) Series 3: Writings, circa 1960s (3 folders; Box 1) Series 4: Personal Business Records, 1964-1974 (2 folders; Box 1) Series 5: Printed Material, circa 1950s-1970s (2 folders; Box 1, OV 3) Series 6: Photographs, circa 1940s-1970s (0.4 linear feet; Box 1, OV 3) Series 7: Artwork, circa 1950s-1960s (0.2 linear feet; Box 2)
Biographical / Historical:
Jay DeFeo (1929-1989) lived and worked in Northern California where she was a prominent figure in the San Francisco Bay Area art scene as a painter in the progressive art community. She identified her artistic style as expressionist and symbolist. DeFeo was born in Hanover, New Hampshire, and was three years old when her family moved to the Bay Area. She attended the University of California Berkeley and earned an Associate's Degree in 1948, a B.A. in 1950 and a M.A. in Fine Arts in 1951. After earning the M.A. she took 18 months to travel in France, Spain, northern Africa, and Italy. She spent 6 months in Florence where she painted and produced her first important body of work. DeFeo returned to San Francisco at the end of her trip. DeFeo married fellow artist Wally Hedrick in 1954. They settled in a large Victorian flat at 2322 Fillmore Street and actively participated in Beat counter culture. DeFeo and Hedrick counted many artists among their friends and colleagues, including musicians, painters, poets, and photographers. They threw large parties with hundreds of guests. DeFeo produced a range of works during her four-decade long career. She began working on her most celebrated and massive painting, The Rose, in the Fillmore flat. In the mid-1960s, DeFeo began teaching at the San Francisco Art Institute. She and Wally Hedrick divorced in 1969, and she moved to Larkspur in Marin County to regroup from personal set-backs and the draining experience of working on The Rose. In 1980 she joined the art faculty at Mills College. She maintained personal and professional correspondences with many people, and her papers include letters about conservation efforts for The Rose.
Related Materials:
The Archives of American Art has an oral history interview with DeFeo conducted 1975 June 3-1976 January 23 by Paul Karlstrom for the Archives of America Art. An 83 page transcript is available online. The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley holds some of DeFeo's archival materials.
Donated between 1975-1981 by Jay DeFeo.
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
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Painters -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area  Search this
Photography -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area  Search this
Photographers -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area  Search this
Women artists  Search this
Works of art  Search this
Photography -- California -- San Francisco  Search this
Jay DeFeo papers, circa 1940s-1970s. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
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Jay DeFeo papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art