In the second part of his essay Without Elaboration, John Yau traces the history of Forrest Bess' rise from obscurity to recognition.
Yau describes Forrest Bess' influence on subsequent generations of painters noting: "Amidst all the hoopla about the return to painting, specifically figuration (and the overheated frenzy about Neo-Expressionism), Bess offered an alternative, particularly to painters interested in abstraction." He also connects Bess to the Abstract Expressionist painters who "wanted to make a painting that was naked, a work stripped down to its essentials. They were in crisis because they wanted their work to go beyond aesthetic issues… Although Bess had little to do with his peers, he too wanted to make a painting that was naked, one that could serve as a surrogate for his conflicted mind and body."
Paintings by Forrest Bess are on view at Christie's, New York through April 3, 2012.