Contemporary representational painter Robert Beck paints many of the same subjects as other plein air painters, but often with a different perspective and intention. Where others might paint a landmark or familiar scene, Beck looks for the often ignored aspects behind or within the commonplace that put a scene in context — the back rooms, kitchens, stairways, halls and foyers that often go unnoticed. I particularly enjoy his handling of complex interior scenes.
His work has a fresh, painterly immediacy, accented with rough edged passages of vibrant color, that enlivens subjects both familiar and exotic.
Beck is based in Lambertville, New Jersey (see my post on New Hope, PA and Lambertville, NJ), and some of his most recent paintings are a series of glimpses of life here in nearby Philadelphia.
His website divides his work into subject categories, like Africa, Europe, Landscape, The Road, The Farm, Interiors, Night and so on.
In the recent Philadelphia series in particular, most of the works have a “magnifier” feature that allows you to see the brushwork and surface detail a bit better. (Unfortunately, it’s more restrictive than popular Zoomify feature used by many museums.)
Beck studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (image above, second down), and has received recognition that includes a retrospective exhibition of his work at the City of Trenton Museum at Ellarsile and the selection of 37 of his works for an exhibition at the James A. Michener Museum.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Beck in his (then relatively new) studio in Lambertville last year, and found him as personable and knowledgeable as he is skilled.
Beck has recently begun to utilize the advantage of his larger studio and gallery space to move from informal teaching to the establishment of the Robert Beck Academy, fall classes for which begin in mid-September.
In addition to his own gallery, which you can visit on Union St. in Lambertville, Beck’s work will be on display in the upcoming exhibition Philadelphia Heartbeat at the Rosenfeld Gallery in Philadelphia (show listing is not up yet on the Roesnfeld site).
There is a brief video interview with the artist accompanying this article on Pennington Post.