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Jay DeFeo

Persephone

1957

Persephone is part of a series Jay DeFeo made during what she referred to as her “grass period” of the mid-1950s. For this and related works, she built up thin delicate graphite lines that resemble blades of grass or strands of hair. Vacillating between abstraction and representation, the resulting imagery is both mysterious and hypnotic in its detail and density. For example, Persephone might depict a mane of hair, a twisting tree trunk, flowing water, or something else entirely.

Jay DeFeo (b. 1929, Handover, New Hampshire; d. 1989, Oakland, California)
Persephone, 1957
Oil, graphite, and charcoal on paper, mounted on canvas
88 x 41 in.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Gift of Lannan Foundation

Many times a very personal imagery emerges, influenced and enriched by the materials themselves. —Jay DeFeo