De Forest, Roy
Roy De Forest, one of the preeminent artists of the Bay Area, has long worked on his stunning visual tales. He has constructed exciting images from his own private mythology about journeys taken through fanciful landscapes inhabited by questing travelers and canine creatures.
In the 60's, Roy De Forest joined the University of California, Davis faculty, which included William T. Wiley and Robert Arneson, and, with them, became a major participant in the "Funk" art movement. Using bizarre shapes and figures, he rejected the reductive nature of minimalism, and embraced complexity in the spirit of independence and irreverence. It was at this time that his paintings, drawings, and prints evolved into the brilliantly patterned mystical geographies, through which romped his signature dogs, wandering semi-humans and phantasmagoric traveling beasts. These visually compelling canvasses filled larger and more dazzling spaces with gleeful, self-reverent, yet serious and sophisticated images.
De Forest has exhibited extensively since the 1950's, and has had several dozen one-man shows, including a major retrospective in 1974 that opened at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and completed its showing at the Whitney Museum in New York. His paintings, prints, and drawings appear in the collections of such institutions as the Brooklyn Museum; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Art Institute of Chicago; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Rhode Island School of Design and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France.
Roy De Forest was a pioneer of the California Funk movement, which rejected the conceptual nature of Pop for a more animated style. His sly, happy, colorful world of animals and people has a folk-like quality that appeals to a diverse audience. De Forest came to California in the early 1950s to attend CSFA, and he studied with Ed Corbett and Elmer Bischoff. The artist recalls visiting the King Ubu Gallery and jovially soaking up the atmosphere there. When he got out of the military and returned to the city to study at San Francisco State, the "6" was already in operation, and De Forest soon participated in his first show there with Madeline Dimond and Julius Wasserstein, among others. At the time, De Forest was still under the influence of Abstract Expressionism, and his early paintings have a pronounced textural quality. Some of them point toward his later, extensive involvement with color. He also was doing brightly painted, toy-like assemblages, perhaps influenced by Seymour Locks, one of his teachers.