Michener Art Museum

Robert Beck


Robert Beck, photograph by Jack Rosen, 1996, photo courtesy of the artist, James A. Michener Art Museum archives
PAINTER
BORN: September 17, 1950, New Jersey


"Robert Beck's representational canvases seem to catch a moment of movement frozen in time. His genre scenes of the area and slices of life in the country (as much as farther afield) have brought recognition to the artist and to the county." - Erica Jaeger Smith, Associate Curator, James A. Michener Art Museum in American Art Review, June 2005.

Robert Beck attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia where his work began in portraiture. Soon it would take a turn to include landscapes and still life; it became about the world around us. Often working on location, Beck is best known for portraying events painted from life. After leaving the corporate world to paint full-time, Beck now "describe[s] for a living." He thinks of his work as "documentary essays," especially when he paints the subject over a period of time as he did with his fifteen paintings of a symphony orchestra season or the sixteen paintings from a Mississippi towboat. Whether in a diner, on an ABC News set, in an orchestra, or a Philadelphia fight club, immersing himself in the subject allows Beck to capture the detail and essence of the event. Beck wants the viewer to "hear the plates" in the diner and to feel the puddles in a storm. In doing this, Beck hopes to elicit from the viewer a memory or association to the things we often see but to which we rarely pay much attention.
Beck's work has been featured in many solo and group exhibitions and his accomplishments have been recognized with 24 awards. In 1999 he was invited to show 37 paintings at the James A. Michener Art Museum, and in 2007, he had a retrospective exhibit at Ellarslie, the Museum of the City of Trenton. In addition to working as a painter, Beck teaches at the Lawrenceville School and at Artworks in Trenton. His Lambertville studio is a regional center of cultural activitiy. Beck has also served on the Board of the Academy of Fine Arts Fellowship, given lectures, and he writes an art-related column for Prime Time magazine.