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Jay DeFeo: Her Tripod and Its Dress

November 6, 2003 – January 10, 2004


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The New Yorker, December 3-9, 2003

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Michael Rosenfeld Gallery is pleased present its second solo exhibition featuring the work of Jay DeFeo (American, 1929-1989). Jay DeFeo: Her Tripod and Its Dress will explore in depth the artist's obsession in the mid-1970s with her photographic tripod - an inanimate object that she adorned and captured in painting, works on paper and photographs. When DeFeo became intrigued with the visual and metamorphic possibilities of the tripod, she found the perfect subject to explore, merging her interest in the anthropomorphic transformation of inanimate objects with her experimental use of photography and other media. As subject matter, the tripod challenged traditional conceptualizations of the photographic process. Like the camera itself, the tripod is usually invisible as something beyond the boundaries of the picture frame, yet unlike the camera, the tripod has no tradition of visual representation. According to the artist's journal, DeFeo struggled with her earliest tripod drawings, but the emergence of a "tripod person" can be traced to a specific moment, which she shared with Museum of Modern Art curator Dorothy Miller in a letter:

Tripod Series: A note about how this started. A drunken acquaintance came to the door while I was working. I was in the process of cutting a drawing out of a black piece of paper. After placing it on the table, he promptly threw up on it! After washing it off, I hung it on the tripod to dry and behold! The Tripod image was born - something I was hung up on for a year.

In her notes and in conversation about this series of works, DeFeo referred to this black paper cloak as the tripod's "dress" and its "clothes." The tripod itself became a "person" and her drawings of it were "portraits."

A fully illustrated color catalogue with an essay by Elisabeth Sussman is available.