Roy De Forest’s Greatness Shines Even in a Virtual Display

By Roberta Smith
“Painting the Big Painting” (1993) has echoes of Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.”Credit...Roy De Forest Estate/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York; via Venus Over Manhattan
Sometimes viewing an art exhibition online isn’t so much an inconvenience as a comfortable buffer. Consider, for example, the irreverent, relentless visual cornucopia created by the great but under-known artist Roy De Forest (1930-2007), a large selection of which booms forth from the website of the Manhattan gallery Venus Over Manhattan. The show’s 37 paintings, drawings and assemblage wall reliefs span from 1960 to 2006 and constitute the largest De Forest show in New York since a 1975 survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art. De Forest’s artworks batter received ideas of taste and beauty no less today than they did when they were created. They eviscerate (perhaps definitively) the pejorative term “regionalist” with which New York art worlders used to label most postwar artists who lived west of New Jersey — Los Angeles excepted. [More]