Cover image for William Beckman
William Beckman
Beckman, William, 1942-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Seattle, Wash. : Frye Art Museum : Distributed by University of Washington Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
108 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 29 cm
General Note:
Catalog of an exhibition held at Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA, 2002.
Added Author:
Added Corporate Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ND237.B38 A4 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

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William Beckman (b. 1942) paints himself, loved ones, and the land he has lived upon, creating edgy portraits and landscapes. His subjects, whether mother or lover, are delivered to the viewer with gripping details, without embelishment.

He creates his figurative art using a unique method. He applies paint, then shaves of layer after layer from the surface with a razor, repainting and polishing the canvas to create lustrous, absorbing images. His realism is stripped of sentiment, his idealized portraits scrupulously rendered, and his expansive tracts of Minnesota farmland theatrically scaled. Each painting is epic in significance and matter-of-fact at the same time.

This is the first book that offers a comprehensive view of Beckman?s art and career. Essays--Boxes, Diana, Couples, Self Portraits, Landscapes, and Drawings and Studies- - cluster the work according to subject matter, describing the many ways Beckman has found to bond form and content and enabling the reader to grasp the unfolding shape of his artistic thought.

Carl Belz is director emeritus of the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, and managing editor of Art New England magazine.The Frye Art Museum's website is at

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Contemporary artist Beckman is best known for his larger-than-life figurative paintings depicting seemingly emotionless subjects in meticulous detail. There is something unsettling in the directness of his figures, and this sense of unease is no less apparent when viewing his portraits and landscapes. For the first time, this exhibition catalog documents the entire path of Beckman's art, including figures, portraits, self-portraits, landscapes, and drawings that date from the late 1960s to the present. Managing editor of Art New England magazine and director emeritus of Brandeis University's Rose Art Museum, Belz examines the themes and progressions of Beckman's work, illuminating his intense and highly personal art. This catalog accompanies a retrospective exhibition at the Frye Art Museum, Seattle, and is illustrated with 78 full-color, full-page reproductions. Beckman states, "My kind of painting [is a] lone effort, an individual effort," but thanks to this book, we can gain insight into the work of one of America's important contemporary artists. Recommended for all libraries with strong American art collections.-Kraig A. Binkowski, Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This attractive book documents the exhibition of Beckman's work at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle in 2002. The images, coupled with the essay by Belz (director emeritus, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis Univ.), who is long familiar with the artist, provide an understanding of this important contemporary painter. Belz offers biographical details as well as insightful analyses of the works themselves. Beckman seems equally comfortable with figurative or landscape genres, depicting his subjects with an obsessive, cool precision. It is this detachment that makes Beckman's work so compelling. Labored over during the course of years, developed out of direct observation, these paintings are informed by art history, particularly the Northern Renaissance. A stillness and rarified atmosphere bestow a timeless quality, but the paintings are firmly grounded in the US. Drawings and studies display a softer, but no less incisive exploration of form and space. A selected biography is included, but it remains unclear as to whether all pieces reproduced in the book were in the exhibit. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels. B. Waterman-Peters formerly, Washburn University of Topeka

Table of Contents

Richard V. West and Debra J. ByrneCarl Belz
Acknowledgmentsp. 3
William Beckmanp. 5
Introductionp. 5
Boxesp. 11
Dianap. 19
Couplesp. 31
Self Portraitsp. 43
Landscapesp. 55
Drawings and Studiesp. 81
Portraits and Figuresp. 93
Selected Biographyp. 106