Hackett Mill is pleased to present a solo exhibition of the art of David Beck at the upcoming Armory Show, 2020.

David Beck's enchanting sculptures reflect a life spent in exploration of the whimsical aspects of the world. The meticulous craftsmanship of his mixed-media constructions blend sophistication with the unexpected and recall eighteenth century automata as well as nineteenth century crank toys and whirligigs. His 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 and outsider art. His subject matter ranged from the real to the imagined and included Dodo birds, sea creatures, the circles of Dante's Hell and private, interior worlds that he often animated and articulated through complex mechanics. 

In the words of Betsy Broun, the Director Emerita of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, "everyone talks about David's sense of humor and the joy he brings and the charm of the works, and it is true, that's all there. But of course there is also, I wouldn't say a dark side, but a little fatalistic quality. That sense that the work is ultimately unknowable and bigger and more mysterious, it is not just fun-I find it profoundly meaningful and important. It is art for people who want to slow down and really look hard and think about something. We are here for all of the great artists of America and he certainly is in that category of the best of the best."

When David passed away in 2018 at the age of 65 he left behind a collection ranging from his earliest work through his final sculpture, a carved elephant with over 50 compartments inspired by memory and loss. Our Armory presentation will pull together over 100 works from his home and studio, many of which will be on exhibit for the first time, offering a unique glimpse into the singular vision of the artist.

Hackett Mill is the exclusive representative of the Estate of David Beck.


David Beck
21.25 x 28.5 x 16.75 inches
Boxwood and pigment
c. 2012-18