"Bess taught himself to paint by copying the still - lives and landscapes of artists he admired, such as Vincent Van Gogh and Albert Pinkham Ryder. From early childhood and throughout his life, Bess experienced intense hallucinations, which both frightened and intrigued him; in 1946, he began to incorporate images from his visions into his paintings. "
Hammer Museum presents Forrest Bess: Seeing Things Invisible , focusing on the remarkable accomplishments of this under - recognized American painter. A singular figure in American art who experienced significant recognition and painful isolation during his life — and whose fame has waxed and waned since his death — Forrest Bess (1911 - 19 77) has recently become the subject of keen new interest. The first museum retrospective devoted to Bess in more than twenty years, Forrest Bess: Seeing Things Invisible present s 52 of the artist’s visionary paintings, dating from 1946 to 1970. This exhibition also includes a selection of correspondence, photographs, and articles by and about Bess chosen by artist Robert Gober for the 2012 Whitney Biennial as well as additional extended labels written by Gober .
"Self - described “visionary” artist Forrest Bess (1911 - 1977) is a unique figure in the history of American art. For most of his artistic career, Bess lived an isolated existence in a fishing camp outside of Bay City, Texas. He eked a meager living fishing and selling bait by day. By night and during the off - season he read, wrote, and painted prolifically, creating an extraordinary body of mostly small - scale canvases rich with enigmatic symbolism. Despite his remoteness, Bess made himself known in the 1950s in New York (then the undisputed center of the art world). The prominent artist and dealer Betty Parsons represented Bess, dedicating six solo exhibitions to his work between 1949 and 1967. "