Roy De Forest

Born in 1930 in North Platte, Nebraska, Roy De Forest spent the bulk of his youth in Yakima, Washington where he began his education in the arts. In 1950 he relocated to California to study at the California School of Fine Arts, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. After serving in the US Army during World War II, De Forest went on to earn his master’s degree at San Francisco State College.

His first exhibition in 1955 reflected the influence that the Abstract Expressionist movement had on him, but by 1960 his work had grown more representational and suggestive of both human and animal forms.   Origins and relationships between the forms that De Forest created grew more personal and suggestive of dream-like worlds and ideas.

In addition to painting, De Forest also taught at the University of California, Davis alongside renowned artists such as Robert Arneson, Manuel Neri, Wayne Thiebaud and William T. Wiley. Of their group collaborations, Renny Pritki of Nelson Gallery remarked, “history was made…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 group show of their art became a touring retrospective organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1975.

UC Davis in the 1960s became a hub for Funk art and De Forest, along with Wiley, Arneson, and David Gilhooly collaborated on many group exhibitions associated with the movement. De Forest was responsible for the off shoot of Funk art, coined “Nut art”, that embraced humor and fantasy to create alternative worlds using artistic tools.

De Forest received a National Endowment for the Arts Award and took part in many successful exhibitions at institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He passed in 2007.


Selected Solo Exhibitions

1955 East & West Gallery
1958 East & West Gallery
1960, 1962 Dilexi Gallery
1966, 1967 Allan Frumkin Gallery
1966, 1972 San Francisco Art Institute
1969 Gallery Marc
1971 California Palace of the Legion of Honor
1971 Glenbow-Alberta Art Gallery
1974 Fendrick Gallery
1976 Institute of Contemporary Art 1977 Marian Locks Gallery
1978 Boston Museum of Fine Arts
1982 Alan Frumpton Gallery
1985 The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University


Selected Group Exhibitions

 1973 Whitney Museum of American Art
1976 San Francisco Museum of Art
1978 Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
1980 Whitney Museum of American Art
1981 Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art
1981 San Francisco Art Institute
1981 Brooklyn Museum
1981 Whitney Museum of American Art
1982 De Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University
1982 Boston Museum of Fine Arts
1994 The Oakland Museum of California
1997 Museum of Modern Art, New York
1998 John Berggruen Gallery
2003 George Adams Gallery
2011 Richmond Art Center
2012 San Jose Museum of Art


Selected Public Collections

Whitney Museum of American Art
The Smithsonian American Art Museum
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
The Crocker Art Museum of Sacramento
The Fine Art Museums of San Francisco
The Hirshhorn Museum of Washington, D.C.
The Rhode Island School of Design
The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University
Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Boston Museum of Fine Art
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Roy De Forest, 1957-1962, 19″ x 15″; 11″ x 11″; 9″ x 6″

Roy De Forest, 1950-1954, 30″ x 38″

Roy De Forest

Roy De Forest, 1958, 73.5″ x 69.5″