An example of this innovative undertaking is Jay DeFeo's The Rose, 1958-66. While this painting by DeFeo was not in the exhibition, it is a spectacular example of one of the methods in which these artists explored the spatial use of the canvas. Whereas artist Helen Frankenthaler was exploring the use of thinned paint in a way to let the canvas surface emerge through layers that stained the canvas rather than built it up, DeFeo's The Rose was a massive undertaking of incredible amounts of coating and volume. As quoted from the exhibition catalog,Women of abstract expressionism:
"The Rose, measuring eleven inches thick and weighing about a ton--now a centerpiece of the Whitney Museum's collection--is the most famous painting to have come out of the San Francisco movement. The enduring fascination stems not from its innovative technique or media-blurring fracture, but rather from its commanding presence, enigmatic nature, and legendary history. The story of DeFeo's single-minded devotion to the painting for the better part of eight years is well documented. Removing the work required cutting a hole into a wall and lowing the piece on a forklift into a truck, an event immortalized in Bruce Conner's film 'The White Rose' (1965). What gives The Rose such power is not only its imposing size but the quantity of light, an inner, radiant light that exerts an active force on the viewer. The Rose, like all great works of art, defies definition--as critic Michael Duncan put it, the painting offers 'no closure but infinite quest,' oscillating between 'the concave and the convex, between emanation and inhalation, between transcendence and abnegation.'"
--Marter, Joan M. (ed.). 2016. Women of abstract expressionism. Denver, Colorado: Denver Art Museum; New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 55.