With over 70 works and biographical items, this monographic exhibition is the first in Europe to offer such a comprehensive view of the life and work of the American painter Forrest Bess (1911-1977). The exhibition at the Fridericianum introduces the general public to the post-war art of an American artist who has yet to be inducted into the art canon. The autodidactically trained artist lived and worked in relative seclusion and developed his highly distinctive visual imagery during the era of abstract expressionism. His mostly small-format paintings with symbolic and abstract forms are documents of visions he experienced in a half-waking state and which depict the subconscious experiences of humanity. His multifaceted musings culminated in a theory of hermaphroditism which he believed would grant him immortality if he could only unite the masculine and the feminine within himself. After conducting several surgeries on himself, he finally attempted to become a pseudo-hermaphrodite in the 1950s. Forrest Bess is regarded today as an outstanding and possibly one of the most eccentric artists of his time. His life journey, the gender-specific issues alluded to in his works, and his autonomous imagery continue to inspire numerous contemporary artists, such as Amy Sillman, Richard Hawkins and James Benning.
Artistic director: Moritz Wesseler
Artist: Forrest Bess
15 February, 2020 to 6 September, 2020: Exhibition