Forrest Bess’s Visionary Paintings Return to New York

In January 1955, the painter Forrest Bess got good and drunk and used a razor blade to cut a hole into the underside of his penis. He proceeded to make an incision into his urethra, becoming what he described as a “pseudo-hermaphrodite.” He believed—based on a philosophy that combined Aboriginal rituals, alchemy, Jungian psychology, the medical experiments of the doctor Eugene Steinach and Bess’s own haunting visions—that the hole he’d created where the base of his penis connected with his scrotum was the key to immortality and creative vigor. Bess, according to his letters and papers, considered the male unconscious to be female, a notion that he used to make sense of what he saw as his own conflicting personae—“typical ambitious Texan” (male) and “artistic, sensitive, introspective” (female). Reductive a reading of gender as that might be, he thought that if he could combine these two personalities, he would be freed of all anxiety and tension—hence the razor blade.
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  1. [...] grow more complex through the years and that even Bess claimed to not understand. Read more on GalleristNY Amazon.com WidgetsTagged with: Bess • Bess&#39s • Forrest • Forrest Bess [...]

  2. [...] A New Vision of a Visionary FishermanNew York TimesThe art of Forrest Bess (1911-77), like that of Vincent van Gogh, may be in danger of being overtaken by his life story. Especially now, when the work of this eccentric visionary painter — who spent the bulk of his maturity as a fisherman on the Gulf …Forrest Bess's Visionary Paintings Return to New YorkGalleristNY [...]

  3. [...] a person's bias to see guns in the hands of others, new research shows. … Read News Forrest Bess’s Visionary Paintings Return To New YorkIn January 1955, the painter Forrest Bess got good and drunk and used a razor blade to cut a hole [...]