Artist Roy De Forest has long worked with the theme of rambling visual
storytelling about journeys to fantastic places where inhabitants
and travelers include adept, grinning canines with glowing, bas-relief
De Forest was born on 11 February
1930 in North Platte, Nebraska and grew up on a farm. After living in
Yakima, Washington, he came to California in 1950 to study at the California
School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute), where his
teachers included Hassel Smith, Elmer Bischoff and David Park. He went
on the study at San Francisco State College and in the late 50s began
to teach. In the 60s De Forest was one of a group of the artists called
themselves Funk Artists.
Forest along with Robert Arnesan, Peter Saul, Robert Hudson and William
T. Wiley established a refuge of eccentric and humorous figurative
art in the midst of the formalism and abstraction of the American
art establishment. his paintings evolved to vibrantly patterned,
fanciful landscapes crowded with animal and human figures.
Paul Dorn wrote in 2002,"Roy
De Forest has always been a difficult artist to categorize. Known for
his phantasmagorically chaotic images of cartoonish figures and cheerfully
loony canines, rendered with a distinctive "paint
drop kiss" technique, De Forest is generally lumped in with the
Bay Area Funk artists of the 1960s. Like East Coast Pop Art, California's
Funk movement was a response to the oppressive gospel of abstract expressionism
that dominated the aesthetic canon and art schools of post-WWII America.
With a delightful lack of self-importance, Funk provided a welcome niche
for iconoclastic figures such as De Forest." While teaching at the University
of California at Davis from 1965-1982 , he and his fellow professors
Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Arneson, William T. Wiley and Manuel Neri elevated
the art school to national prominence and influence.
De Forest's work is in the
collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Museum
of Modern Art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Centre Georges Pompidou
in Paris, and many others.
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