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Aspen Art Museum


Bruce Conner: THE WHITE ROSE

Apr 29, 2023-May 28, 2023
In 1965, Bruce Conner filmed fellow artist Jay DeFeo and her monumental, then-unfinished artwork, The Rose (1958–66), in the moments leading up to its extraction from her San Francisco studio. In an obsessive, implacable quest, DeFeo devoted over eight years of her life to The Rose, a radiant accumulation of mica and oil paint that blurred distinctions between painting and sculpture. Prior to The Rose’s completion, DeFeo was evicted from her studio and forced to uproot her possessions and her art. Conner’s resulting film, THE WHITE ROSE (1967), situates DeFeo’s masterpiece as its protagonist, documenting its forceful prying from the bay window in which it was made, as well as its journey to the sidewalk below and the moving truck that carries it away.

Conner (1933–2008) was a central figure in the counterculture of the San Francisco Bay Area and a friend of DeFeo. He is regarded as a founder of the Assemblage movement of the 1960s, in which artists poetically integrated found and readymade materials across media including sculpture, printmaking, drawing, photography, collage, and film. In his practice, Conner demonstrates an affinity for drawing out the magic of both lowly and beautiful things, considering how they might relate to human lives, saying in 1964, “there is always a dialogue going on between objects and people.”

This dialogue is fundamental to THE WHITE ROSE, which functions as an elegiac portrait of artist and artwork. DeFeo circulates the painting, spirit-like, as it departs her studio and home. At one point she lays down onto the work, as if to symbolically fuse herself to it. The filmmaker lingers over the artist, depicting both the pain and the relief that come with this closure.
AAM exhibitions are made possible by the Marx Exhibition Fund. General exhibition support is provided by the Toby Devan Lewis Visiting Artist Fund. Additional support is provided by the AAM National Council.