Collection Spotlight: The Campfire by Roy De Forest


Roy De Forest, The Campfire, 1993, lithograph. Gift of Thomas Deutsch, 1998.10.5.

As the Museum’s registrar, I’ve seen everything in our collection. I wanted to pick an object that hasn’t been on exhibition yet to share with you and my colleagues.

We have seven prints and one drawing by the artist Roy De Forest. All of them are fascinating in their own ways, but The Campfire in particular has intrigued me over the years. When I look at an artwork I try to find the meaning, or at least come to an understanding about its subject matter, but this print just leaves me with a lot of questions. What are those heads on sticks? Are they human or animal? Why are they there? What is the main figure doing with his pants off? Why are the clouds blood red? Why does the dog look so happy?

There is no empty space at all in this composition, and it is overwhelming to take it all in. One of my co-workers said it looks like a campsite gone totally wrong. I can’t help but agree. I am still trying to come to an understanding of all this and would love to hear what you think. Email

—Kristina Bottomley, registrar

You can make an appointment to see this work and others from the Block Museum’s permanent collection. Email or see Visit the Study Center for more information.

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