The papers of artist Roy De Forest measure 11.2 linear feet and 111.86 gigabytes and date from 1916 to 2015, with the bulk of the collection dating from 1948 to 2007. The collection documents De Forest's painting career and involvement in the funk art movement through biographical material, correspondence, writings, professional records, printed material, photographic material, artwork, digital audio and video recordings, and artifacts.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of artist Roy De Forest measure 11.2 linear feet and 111.86 gigabytes and date from 1916 to 2015, with the bulk of the collection dating from 1948 to 2007. The collection includes documents De Forest's painting career and involvement in the funk art movement through biographical material, correspondence, writings, professional records, printed material, photographic material, artwork, digital audio and video recordings, and artifacts.
Biographical material includes early school materials, resumes, a recording of an interview, membership materials, identification documents, certificates and awards, and family history and genealogy material. Also included in this series are obituaries, letters of condolence, and materials, including born-digital photographs and recordings, related to memorial services celebrating De Forest's life and work.
Correspondence includes letters and postcards to and from family, friends, colleagues, and arts institutions. This series also includes a few folders of greeting cards.
The writings series contains essays, lectures, exhibition texts, notes, and other materials written by Roy De Forest, including an essay, The Vision of Paolo Uccello, and his famous "dog lecture." Also included are writings by others, such as a student dissertations on Roy De Forest, essays by Bruce Nixon, and poetry and an essay by David Zack.
Professional records include materials related to a book of memories (never published) organized by Dilexi Gallery and the Loujon Press, exhibition planning documents, an exhibition recording, materials related to the James Talcott Inc. Computer Arts program, and materials related to print documentation.
Financial records contain inventory and stock files; sales and consignment records; receipts and invoices; tax, estate, and insurance paperwork; and account books and ledgers.
Printed material includes exhibition announcements, catalogs, and posters; material related to other projects; blank cards with Roy De Forest art; clippings; press releases; newsletters and journals; books; and source material.
Photographic material includes digital and print photographs, negatives, transparencies, and slides of Roy De Forest and other individuals, as well as travel photos, images of his pets (primarily dogs), and images of his studio and works of art.
Artwork includes drawings by De Forest and others, as well as four sketchbooks.
The artifacts series contains a tote bag, t-shirt, and a puzzle, all featuring Roy De Forest artwork. Also included in the series is a patterned shirt and an "art critic" baseball cap.
The collection is arranged in nine series.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1930-2008 (Boxes 1-2, OV 12, RD 17, ER01-ER03; 1.7 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1948-2014 (Boxes 2-3; 1 linear foot)
Series 3: Writings, circa 1952-2005 (Box 3, OV 12, ER04; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 4: Professional Records, 1968-circa 2007, 2014 (Box 3, OV 12; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 5: Financial Records, 1963-circa 2014 (Boxes 3-5; 1.4 linear feet)
Series 6: Printed Material: 1916-1936, 1951-2007 (Boxes 5-7, OV 13-14, ER05-ER07; 2.8 linear feet)
Series 7: Photographic Material: 1926, circa 1943-2007 (Boxes 7-9, OV 15, ER08-ER12; 2 linear feet)
Series 8: Artwork, circa 1947-circa 2007 (Boxes 9-10, OV 16; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 9: Artifacts, circa 2007-circa 2009 (Box 11; 1 linear foot)
Biographical / Historical:
Roy De Forest (1930-2007) was a painter, sculptor, and educator in Port Costa, California. A notable figure in the funk art movement, he coined the term "nut art" to describe art that embraced humor and created a fantasy world.
Born in North Platte, Nebraska, Roy De Forest grew up in Yakima, Washington where he attended Yakima Junior College and graduated in 1950. He went on to study at the California School of Fine Arts (now San Francisco Art Institute) and San Francisco State College (now San Francisco State University). He taught at Yakima Junior College from 1958 to 1960 after graduating from San Francisco State College, and later taught at the University of California, Davis from 1965 until his retirement as professor emeritus in 1992.
De Forest's first solo exhibition was in 1955 at the East & West Gallery in San Francisco. From then until his death in 2007, he exhibited frequently, especially at the Allan Frumkin Gallery in New York and the Hansen Fuller Gallery in San Francisco.
Also found in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Roy De Forest conducted by Lynn Robert Matteson, April 7-June 30, 2004.
The Roy De Forest papers were donated in several installments from 1974 to 2019. Some materials were loaned for microfilming in 1974 and subsequently donated in 1977 and 1979 by Roy De Forest. Additional materials were donated in 2009, 2016 and 2019 by Gloria Marchant, Roy De Forest's widow.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings and born-digital records with no duplicate copies requires advance notice.