Forrest Bess

Post image for The Unadulterated Sincerity of Forrest Bess

LOS ANGELES — Along with many people, my first introduction to Forrest Bess (1911–1977) occurred at the 2012 Whitney Biennial. Artist Robert Gober curated a one room show of Bess’s small-scale paintings alongside photographs and documents detailing his theories of pseudo-hermaphroditic transcendence and corresponding self-surgery.

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Post image for The Presence of Paint: Baker Overstreet’s Pleasure Principle

Every now and then we realize how much we live in a digital mirage. Take Baker Overstreet’s show at Fredericks & Freiser. Although this is the artist’s fourth solo in New York, I hadn’t yet seen his work in the flesh, my only exposure being images and reviews.

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Post image for Five Artists We Don’t Want to Be Our Valentine

Sometimes it’s better to be alone. Here are a few artists who we wouldn’t particularly like to spend a romantic Valentine’s Day with, from the over-sharing to the unstable to the plain unsettling.

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ArticlesWeekend

Without Elaboration (Part 2)

by John Yau on March 25, 2012

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In 1981, Bess was reintroduced (or, for many of us) introduced by way of a small one-person exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Barbara Haskell organized the show and there was a small pamphlet available for free. According to the pamphlet, the symbols in Bess’ work were based on “obscure sexual references” and there was something “lurid” about them.

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Post image for A Work by Forrest Bess on the Antiques Roadshow

A commenter, Chicken_Fingers, reminded us about this episode of The Antiques Roadshow from Tulsa, Oklahoma, that aired on January 9, 2012.

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ArticlesWeekend

Without Elaboration

by John Yau on March 18, 2012

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Forrest Bess was born in Bay City, Texas on October 5, 1911, one year before Agnes Martin (1912-2004) and Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) joined him on this planet. Martin’s entry point was Macklin, Saskatchewan; Pollock’s was Cody, Wyoming. Martin and Pollock moved to New York in order to study, and left in order to preserve themselves. Both made the paintings by which they became famous after leaving New York.

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Post image for Poor Forrest, Dead and Gone

To walk into the artist Robert Gober’s installation of paintings, photographs and writings by Forrest Bess — a visionary painter and self-described, self-surgically-altered “pseudo-hermaphrodite” — was to encounter art frontloaded with (as the reader put it) “cultural significance while also being visually intoxicating, or mesmerizing, you can choose a description.”

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