If you haven’t made it to the Oakland Museum yet this summer, we highly recommend you time your visit before the special long overdue Roy De Forest retrospective closes on August 20th. (Pro tip: don’t miss the Dorothea Lange exhibit while you’re there).

Designed to simulate an adventurous exploration of the artist’s dream-like and often humorous works, instead of chronological order the show is organized by themes such as ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’, ‘Horse of a Different Color’ and ‘Flashback’.

“Immersing yourself in an artwork by De Forest is like going on a treasure hunt.”

Some of the most fun and inspiring features of the show are the ‘Faithful Companions’ presented through audio listening stations that both charm and inform.

One particularly thought-provoking narrative in front of ‘Hans Bricker in the Tropics’ has Ilán Casián-Issenberg, Actor and Fifth Grader, ask the viewer:

“If you were to talk to the Brick Man which language would you use?”

De Forest was an influential American painter and sculptor who was also involved in the Funk art or Nut art movements, a genre made famous by artists in the 1960s in the San Francisco Bay Area, including De Forest, Wayne Thiebaud, William T. Wiley, and Clayton Bailey.

The accompanying catalogue is richly illustrated and was written by curator Susan Landauer, whose appreciation for De Forest dates back to her childhood. A fascinating biography, the book reassesses De Forest’s art-historical position, placing him in a national rather than solely West Coast context. To go deeper into both the exhibition and catalogue, see Hyperallergic‘s review.

“It is a major book, a deeply researched biography of De Forest and an analysis of his art and career.”—The San Francisco Chronicle
“In this thoroughly professional, immaculately organized, and factually overflowing book, the reader is set to be inspired by the adventure that was Roy De Forest.”—New York Journal of Books

This exhibition is particularly kid-friendly and will delight the young and the young at heart. We think the same holds true for the catalogue.