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Tentler, G. (2013). Painting in a Different Kind of Void. Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 14(3):230-234.

(2013). Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 14(3):230-234

Painting in a Different Kind of Void

Gregory Tentler

The reception of Forrest Bess's work has primarily portrayed the artist as a “visionary” without external influence. By doing this, critics have downplayed the historical and cultural moment of Bess's productions and, subsequently, the well-developed interpretive models available from the history of art. This essay positions Bess and his work within the New York School of painting and its critical discourses of gendered metaphors and heteronormative formal evaluation. Recognizing how the artist participated in the conventions of vanguard painting of this time period offers new insights into Bess's singular style. Bess's works reveal the blind spots created by the visual grammar of Abstract Expressionism in his attempts to figure his repressed same-sex desires.

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