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Roy De Forest Exhibit

Don’t miss Roy De Forest’s colorful, whimsical, dog-filled artwork at the Oakland Museum of California.


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Collection SFMOMA, Gift of the Hamilton-Wells Collection, © Estate of Roy De Forest, Licensed by VAGA, New York

A self-described “nut artist,” Roy De Forest blazed his own trail—and from the looks of it, he had crazy fun doing so.

De Forest, who died in 2007, created some of his best-known works while on the faculty of UC Davis’ legendary art department from 1965 to 1992. In that fertile period, De Forest and a group of artists coined the term Nut Art, a designation that applies to De Forest’s love of colorful fantasy worlds, wacky figures, and idiosyncratic mash-ups. His goal was to construct “a miniature world into which the nut could retire with all his friends, animals, and paraphernalia.”

And that he did. De Forest’s paintings are magical universes populated by wild-eyed dogs, creatures the artist had boundless affection for. Even the canine-less works conjure up a sense of childlike wonder and unbridled joy.  

Now, you can see his creations firsthand in Of Dogs and Other People: The Art of Roy De Forest, a new exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California, and the first major retrospective of his work in some 40 years. Adding to the fun, the museum has recorded audio interviews with unlikely guides (including a dog trainer, a sword swallower, and a cartographer) to help visitors navigate their journey into De Forest’s eccentrically wonderful imagination. April 29–August 20, museumca.org.

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