Project Description

Roy De Forest

Roy De Forest Catalog
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Born in North Platte, Nebraska in 1930, 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 studied with Ed Corbett and Elmer Bischoff and earned a BA in 1953. After serving in the US Army, De Forest studied at San Francisco State College (Now San Francisco State University), where he received his MA in 1958.

In the 60’s, 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. As 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 exhibited widely during his lifetime, enjoying success on both the east and west coasts. In 1974, the Oakland Museum of California organized De Forest’s first major retrospective and another, posthumously in 2017. He was the recipient of several major grants and awards, a few notable ones being the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1972 and an honorary doctorate from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1983. His work lives on in major public collections internationally, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Honolulu Museum of Art; the Philadelphia Art Museum; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France.

Roy De Forest Artwork

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Roy De Forest CV


  • 1950-52 California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco
  • 1953 San Francisco State College, B.A.
  • 1958 San Francisco State College, M.A.


  • 1965-82 University of California, Davis
  • 1964-65 California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, CA
  • 1964 San Quentin Prison, San Rafael, CA
  • 1964-65 Junior Center of Arts and Sciences, Oakland, CA
  • 1961-62 San Francisco State College
  • 1960-61 Contra Costa Junior College, San Pablo, CA
  • 1958-60 Yakima Junior College, Yakima, WA
  • 1955-58 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art



  • “Man of Our Times: Drawings by Roy De Forest,” Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco, CA, 2017.
  • “Of Dogs and Other People: The Art of Roy De Forest,” Oakland Museum of California, 2017.
  • “Roy De Forest: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie,” Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco, CA, 2015.
  • “Roy De Forest: A Simple Life,” George Adams Gallery, New York, NY, 2013.
  • “Roy De Forest: A Figure of Our Times,” Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco, CA, 2012.
  • “Bark!” John Natsoulas Gallery, Davis, CA, 2012.
  • “Roy De Forest: Painting the Big Painting,” Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco, CA, 2009.
  • “Roy De Forest: A Memorial Exhibition, Paintings, Drawings and Constructions 1965-2007,”
  • George Adams Gallery, New York, NY, 2008.
  • “Roy De Forest: Recent Paintings,” Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco, CA, 2006.
  • “Roy De Forest: New Paintings,” George Adams Gallery, New York, NY, 2005-2006.
  • “New Works on Paper,” Mobilia Gallery, Cambridge, MA, 2003.
  • “A Slow Time in Arcadia: Roy De Forest and William T. Wiley 1960-2002,” George Adams Gallery, New York, NY, 2002.
  • “Roy De Forest & Gaylen Hanson,” Paris Gibson Square Museum, Great Falls, MT; Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, MT; Museum of Northwest Art, La Conner, WA; Schneider Museum of Art, Ashland, OR; Plains Art Museum, Fargo, ND, 1998-2001.*
  • “New Constructions,” George Adams Gallery, New York, NY, 1997.
  • “New Paintings and Drawings,” Frumkin/Adams Gallery, New York, NY, 1993.
  • John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, 1992.
  • Frumkin/Adams Gallery, New York City, 1990, 1993.
  • Fuller Gross Gallery, San Francisco, CA, 1990.
  • Cantor Center for the Visual Arts at Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 1990.
  • “Roy De Forest,” Fuller Gross Gallery, San Francisco, CA, 1989.
  • Marilyn Butler Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, 1989.
  • Dorothy Goldeen Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, 1988, 1991.
  • Natsoulas/Novelozo Gallery, Davis, CA, 1988, 1990.*
  • Struve Gallery, Chicago, IL, 1988.
  • “Animal Images,” Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh, PA, 1987.*
  • “New Paintings, Drawings & Constructions,” Allan Frumkin Gallery, New York, NY, 1985.*
  • “The Early Constructions,” Nelson Gallery, University of California, Davis; University of Riverside, California: 1983-1984.
  • Frumkin & Struve Gallery, Chicago, IL, 1983.
  • Art Gallery, California State University, Chico, CA, 1982.
  • Fuller Goldeen Gallery, San Francisco, CA, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1986.
  • Nelson Gallery, University of California, Davis, CA, 1980, 1983.
  • Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara, CA, 1980.
  • Fountain Gallery, Portland, OR, 1980.
  • Blackfish Gallery, Portland, OR, 1980.
  • Susan Whitney Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, 1980.
  • E.B. Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA, 1980.*
  • Marian Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA, 1980.
  • 605 East 3rd Street Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, 1979.
  • Fresno City College, Fresno, CA, 1979.
  • Michael Berger Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA, 1979.
  • Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA, 1978.
  • Institute of Contemporary Art (with Robert Hudson), Boston, MA, 1977, 1978.
  • Clark / Benton Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, 1977, 1978, 1981.
  • Barbara Fendrick Gallery, Washington, D.C., 1976.
  • Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA, 1975.
  • Retrospective exhibition. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Fort Worth Art Center, TX; Utah Museum of Fine Arts, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY: 1974-1975*
  • Shasta College, Redding, CA, 1974.
  • Galerie Allen, Vancouver, Canada, 1974.
  • Galerie Darthea Speyer, Paris, France, 1974, 1977, 1981, 1987.
  • Glenbow-Alberta Gallery, Calgary, Canada, 1974.
  • Allan Frumkin Gallery, Chicago, IL, 1973, 1977.
  • Hansen Fuller Gallery, San Francisco, CA, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1978.
  • Manolides Gallery, Seattle, WA, 1971, 1972, 1978, 1979.
  • Gallery Marc, Washington, D.C., 1971.
  • California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA, 1971.
  • Candy Store Gallery, Folsom, CA, 1971.
  • San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA, 1969.
  • Cowell College, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA, 1969.
  • Art Gallery, City College of Sacramento, Sacramento, CA, 1967.
  • Allan Frumkin Gallery, New York, NY, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1985.*
  • Peninsula Gallery, Menlo Park, CA, 1966.
  • San Francisco Art Association Gallery, San Francisco, CA, 1962.
  • Dilexi Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1966, 1967.
  • Stone Court Gallery, Yakima, WA, 1959, 1960.
  • East & West Gallery, San Francisco, CA, 1955, 1958, 1965.

Public Collections

  • Oakland Museum of California
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
  • The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
  • di Rosa, Napa
  • 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.
  • Minneapolis Institute of Art
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, 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.[9]