Ford Beckman, American (1952 - 2014)
Ford Beckman

His first New York exhibitions at Craig Cornelius Gallery and Tony Shafrazi Gallery were well received, both critically and commercially. His spare reductive black and white paintings on plywood caught the attention of collectors including Peter Brant, Charles Saatchi and Count Guiseppe Panza with Panza becoming his largest collector, eventually owning 50 works by Beckman.

Beckman, the two great obsession of 20th century art, surface and geometry, seriously converge. The paintings are full of quiet surprises, not forced ones. They emanate residual, stubborn, inexplicable interiority. A Ford Beckman painting is a structure of reversals, of contraries poised in hallucinatory elegance. The precariousness – the sense of imminent change, of spontaneous tilt from light to dark, from edge to core, from seam that shows its staple-stretch marks to smooth surface stretched into stillness, from uncannily unclean whiteness to translucent sabbath white-ness, and vice versa – is deceptive, for it is the oscillation between the terms that counts, not the predominance of one or the other. It is the dualism that is absolute, not one of its parts. Beckman has reawakened the unknown, the nothingness from which pure form arises.

In 1992, at Hans Mayer Gallery, Dusseldorf, Beckman debuted his Pop Paintings series: both disturbing and familiar, these paintings were based on mass produced images of clowns. Artnews quoted Beckman, "The clown is the perfect icon of our time-wonderful and joyous to some, frightening and nightmarish to others."

From his friendship with Cy Twombly, in 1994 emerged the "La Roma" paintings, many which were produced while working in Twombly's studio in Gaeta. While still using plywood panels as a support, a signature throughout his career, the exuberant color, organic forms and gestural drawing of this series paid homage to Twombly.

In the early 1990's Beckman left New York for Tulsa, Oklahoma where he had attended college to better address the care of his daughter, a special needs child. Beckman would continue to make art with exhibitions of recent work at McClain Gallery, Houston and Maloney Fine Art, Los Angeles.

His work is included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Essl Collection, Vienna.

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