Rip Tales: Jay DeFeo's Estocada and Other Pieces

Rip Tales: Jay DeFeo's Estocada and Other Pieces

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by Jordan Stein

In 1965, Jay DeFeo (1929–89) was evicted from her San Francisco apartment, along with The Rose, the two-thousand-pound painting that would make her legendary. The morning after her front window was sawed open to make way for the colossus, DeFeo attempted to salvage Estocada, a large-scale painting on paper stapled directly to her hallway wall. Unfinished and never documented, the little-known piece—a kind of shadow Rose—was ripped down in chunks, saved, and then reanimated years later in the studio through photography, photocopy, collage, and relief.

 

Rip Tales traces Estocada’s material history for the first time, sharing previously unpublished archival material and contextualizing the work’s evolution within DeFeo’s artistic practice. Woven into this narrative are other Bay Area stories that likewise privilege transformation, multiplicity, intuition, and absence. Drawing on interviews and personal experience, curator Jordan Stein explores these themes in the work and lives of artists Zarouhie Abdalian, April Dawn Alison, Ruth Asawa, Lutz Bacher, Bruce Conner, Dewey Crumpler, Trisha Donnelly, and Vincent Fecteau. Animated by the pursuit of hidden histories, Rip Tales investigates the unpredictable edges of artworks and ideas, using DeFeo’s last-minute rip to illuminate an ethos best defined by its resistance to clear-cut definition.