DescriptionFORREST CLEMENGER BESS (American, 1911-1977)
Oil on canvas
15 x 18 inches (38.1 x 45.7 cm)
Signed lower left: Forrest Bess
Private Collection, Galveston.
Born in Bay City, Forrest Bess studied architecture at Texas A&M College and art at the University of Texas. He opened a studio and gallery in Houston in 1938 and then entered the army in 1941. Bess suffered a nervous breakdown, was released from the service, moved back to Texas for treatment at the VA hospital, and established a studio in San Antonio. In 1947, he returned to the Bay City area living in a shack on the Intracoastal Canal. Bess sold his roughly textured abstractions, reproductions of his dreams, through a New York dealer and locally. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Menil Collection, Houston, the Witte Museum, San Antonio, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston have works by Forrest Bess in their collections.
Untitled (Sailboats) by Bess is an early example of his work. With wild colors and the thick impasto of the brushwork, it is easy to see the influence of Modernism early in his career. At first glance, the painting may appear to be a colorful abstract painting of distorted triangle shapes. However, when it is more closely observed, triangles making up the composition become sailboats with mountains, boats, and flags seen in the background, as well as one small fisherman. Sailboats were a common sight on the Gulf Coast where Bess spent most of his life.
Overall slight undulation of canvas, otherwise good condition.
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