Sunday, January 11, 2009

Forrest Bess

Born October 5, 1911, in Bay City, Texas, Forrest Bess lived his life there in virtual isolation, on a strip of land accessible only by boat.


In Bess' study of mythology, alchemy, archaeology and religion he perceived the recurrence of many of the symbols in his own work; he became obsessed with investigating the mystery of this universal language. Eventually he concluded that this shared symbology held the key to the alchemists' quest for eternal life. Unlike others—Jung and the alchemists, for example—who had considered these images only in spiritual terms, Bess applied a physical interpretation to them. Beginning in the early fifties he came believe he had discovered the secret of immortality—androgyny, the conjunction of male and female, through actual physical transformation. Believing in the magic of symbols to stimulate the unconscious, Bess felt he could communicate this secret through the depiction of pertinent symbols; a vocabulary of images relating to his own interpretation of how this life-prolonging union of opposites might physically be effectuated appeared frequently throughout his work.

No. 40

The Crowded Mind

The Greek

Images and information courtesy of

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