(1953 - 2018)
Enthralling the viewer by their extravagantly detailed surfaces and meticulous carvings, artist David Beck's delightful mixed-media constructions blend sophistication with the unexpected. Beck's animated creations recall eighteenth century automata as well as nineteenth century crank toys and whirligigs. The use of exotic materials, elaborate inlays and fine lacquers borrow from the more refined techniques of European cabinet makers, while the vigor of much of his carving and his use of found materials reference folk, naive and outsider art. His subject matter ranges from comic book art to Balthus. Rich with overt and hidden narratives, and displaying a seamless synthesis of past and present, Beck's work is a sumptuous experience for both the mind and the senses.
In 2006 Beck's commissioned piece, MVSEVM, debuted at the reopening of the Smithsonian American Museum of Art. The 5 x 5 foot sculpture opens to feature miniature hand-painted portraits, drawers that hold tiny artifacts, cabinets displaying various curiosities and creatures dangling from the ceiling. Beck has said “When the doors are closed, you have one experience. But when you start opening it, you discover that there’s a whole other world happening on the inside,” which applies to his small-scale boxes and his larger scale works as well. Beck was also the subject of the 2014 documentary Curious Worlds: The Art & Imagination of David Beck, a film by Olympia Stone.