Roy De Forest
Born in North Platte, Nebraska to migrant farm workers, Roy De Forest grew up in Yakima, Washington and attended junior college there. In 1950 he moved to California to study at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute), where he earned a bachelor's degree (1953). After serving in the US Army, De Forest went on to earn his master's degree (1958) at San Francisco State College (now San Francisco State University).
By the early 1960s De Forest's work had grown more representational, and began to include suggestions of maps and motifs evocative of persons and animals. By the late 1960s this transformation was nearly complete, as De Forest's work now freely mixed patterns and non-objective elements along with recognizable forms such as people, landscapes, and most notably, animals.
De Forest's work also began to reflect his surroundings and life in Port Costa, California, with elements such as old brick buildings, birds, and dogs becoming more commonplace in his compositions.
As the physical forms in De Forest's work grew more recognizable, the origins and relationships between such grew more personal, suggestive of dream worlds and developing personal mythologies.
De Forest taught at the University of California, Davis from 1965 to 1992, along with fellow artists Robert Arneson, Manuel Neri, Wayne Thiebaud and William T. Wiley. On the occasion of the exhibit "You See: The Early Years of the UC Davis Art Faculty," Renny Pritikin of the Nelson Gallery said "History was made in the Central Valley in the early '60s when five great artists came together on the same faculty for over a decade and changed the nature and perception of art in California forever." A retrospective organized by San Francisco Museum of Modern Art toured in 1975.
During the 1960s, UC Davis became a hub for the Funk art movement, with many of the artists associated with this movement either teaching at Davis, or having studied there. De Forest, along with Arneson, Wiley, and David Gilhooly often exhibited together under this heading, including semi-regular shows at the Candy Store Gallery in nearby Folsom, California. Another important figure in the Funk art movement was Clayton Bailey, who was De Forest's neighbor, friend, and collaborator. 
De Forest, along with Bailey, was also a key figure in the development of Nut art, a new artistic genre that paralleled Funk art, and which flourished primarily in the late 1960s and early 1970s in northern California. The term Nut art was coined by De Forest (in conversation with poet and critic David Zack) to describe an approach to art making that embraced humor and personalized fantasy worlds.
Though primarily known as a painter, De Forest worked in other mediums as well, including sculpture, printmaking, and fabric. Several of his assemblage pieces, in addition to a few paintings, are in the diRosa collection.
Roy De Forest is best known for his comic-like patchwork regionalist (California) style, often depicting dogs and other figurative content in his art. His painting, Untitled (Devils/Dogs) from 1989-1990 in the collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art is typical of this style, and like many of his paintings, De Forest made the frame as well.
He had two children, a son named Pascal and a daughter, Orianna. Pascal, following the tradition of his father, majored in art at San Francisco State University.
Select Public Collections
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Crocker Art Museum of Sacramento, Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, the Hirshhorn Museum of Washington, D.C., the Rhode Island School of Design, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., MOCA Los Angeles, Cantor Arts Center (Stanford University), Palm Springs Art Museum, The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, PA, The Richard L. Nelson Gallery & Fine Arts Collection, Davis, CA, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France.
- Albright, Thomas (1985). Art in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1845-1980 : [an illustrated history]. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press. p. 243. ISBN 0-520-05518-7.
- "You See: The Early Years of The UC Davis Art Faculty".
- DePaoli, G. Joan; Bailey], Dr. Gladstone [i.e. Clayton (2000). Clayton Bailey : happenings in the circus of life (1st ed. ed.). Davis, Calif.: John Natsoulas Press. p. 164. ISBN 1-881572-82-X.
- Smith, Roberta (May 23, 2007). Roy De Forest, 77, Painter of Colorful, Comic Scenes, Dies. New York Times
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