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Michener Museum showcases Bucks artist Robert Beck’s paintings


The Michener Art Museum presents “It’s Personal: The Art of Robert Beck,” opening July 30.
The exhibition, running through Jan. 2, focuses on Beck’s place in the storied world of the New Hope-Lambertville arts community. Beck has played an important role in advancing and expanding the region’s traditions of Impressionism and Urban Realism, with distinctive oil paintings of the people, places, and occupations of our time.
He is well known for documentary paintings, as he refers to his paintings done on site in one go. Whether single works or multi-image “visual essays,” these distinct paintings record his world much like the Pennsylvania Impressionists recorded theirs in their time.
Unlike those images, Beck describes a world that contemporary audiences recognize as their own. Viewers respond to his keen perspective on the storefronts, street corners, bars, restaurants, carnivals, basketball games, funeral homes, and parades, of their here and now.
While New York, Bucks County, and the villages along the upper coast of Maine, present subjects and contrast for his examinations, the exhibit includes work from series’ he created in the American West, Europe, and Africa.
“For more than 30 years, Beck has been an integral part of the Bucks County art community as both a leader and an iconoclast,” said curator David Leopold, who has organized the exhibition. “A generation has come to expect Beck at his easel wherever they are in the community. For the first time we have gathered paintings for all parts of his career and will present them in an installation that will also include short videos of different aspects of his work, along with audio of Beck recounting remarkable stories.”

Separated from the bravura style of his plein air work, Beck’s studio images reveal the seriousness of his painting. His technique is solid, and his ability to manipulate even strong graphic elements, such as recasting the contrast in his nocturnes into something more explicitly designed, often edges his images away from Realism and toward the poetic suggestiveness of Symbolism.
Beck attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia and he maintains studios in New Hope and New York City.
His work has been the subject of three in-depth museum exhibitions, has been presented in 30 solo gallery exhibitions and accepted to more than 70 juried exhibitions; he has received 29 significant painting awards. Beck is a member of the Salmagundi Club, the Philadelphia Sketch Club, and is a Signature Member of the American Society of Marine Artists.
A collection of 50 of his essays, each paired with one of his paintings will be published by the museum in conjunction with the exhibition, along with a fully illustrated catalogue that tells the story of his career and includes more than 100 artworks.
Visit the museum online for information.