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Film Details

COLOR / B&W, 48 MINUTES
YEAR PRODUCED: 2000
PRODUCER & DIRECTOR:
Chuck Smith
DIRECTOR & CAMERA:
Ari Marcopoulos

Forrest Bess: Key to the Riddle

LISTED UNDER: Distributed

Summary

Painter, fisherman, visionary, eccentric - Forrest Bess lived his life in obscurity, at an isolated bait camp off the East Coast of Texas.

From 1949 through 1967, Bess showed at the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York City along with artists like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. But Bess' art was only part of a grander theory based on alchemy, Jungian philosophy, and aboriginal rituals, which proposed that hermaphrodism was the key to immortality.

Narrated by actors Willem Dafoe and Ruth Maleczech, the documentary combines the beauty of Bess' art with the drama and tragedy of his personal life.

Interviews with people who knew Bess, including art historian Meyer Schapiro (his last interview) and Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman bring life to this forgotten artist.

Forrest Bess: Key to the Riddleis a fascinating look at one of America's most unusual artists.

Reviews

"This documentary does a superb job of describing how this outsider from Texas achieved insider status in the New York art scene."

Library Journal