Roy De Forest Biography

Roy De Forest




Roy De Forest, painter, printmaker, sculptor, and educator, was born on February 11, 1930, in North Platte, Nebraska to migrant farm workers. His childhood was spent in Nebraska, Colorado, and eastern Washington State. De Forest studied at the Yakima Junior College where he received his associate degree in math and humanities in 1950.

In 1950 De Forest moved to California to study at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute), where he earned a bachelor's degree (1953). After serving in the US Army, he went on to earn his master's degree (1958) at San Francisco State College (now San Francisco State University). Roy De Forest taught at Yakima Junior College in Washington between 1950 and 1952; Contra Costa Junior in San Pablo, California between 1960 and 1961; San Francisco State between 1961 and 1962; and the California College of Arts and Crafts between 1964 and 1965. He joined the staff at the University of California Davis Art Department in 1965, became an assistant professor in 1967, and was made a full professor in 1974.  He retired from teaching in 1992.

In 1972, De Forest received a National Endowment for the Arts Award. His work is in the collections of the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL; Honolulu Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Oakland Museum of California Art; Palmer Museum at Penn State; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento; Hirshhorn Museum; Smithsonian American Art Museum; Whitney Museum of American Art.

Roy De Forest died in Vallejo, California on 18 May 2007.

Colleague Mike Henderson reflected of his friend: "To personally encounter Roy was - not unlike viewing his artwork - a unique experience - always surprising, always amazing. He had a gentle demeanor coupled to an incisive intelligence; a great generosity of spirit matched by an amazing capacity for spontaneity, and a warm open smile that hinted at untold imaginative secrets. He was a wonderful artist, a giving teacher, a truly genuine colleague, and an American original."