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Jack Beal Portrait

Jack Beal

Born:
Richmond, Virginia 1931

Died:
Oneonta, New York 2013

Active in:

  • New York, New York

Photo Caption:
Jack Beal, Self-Portrait, 1974, lithograph on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase with the aid of funds from Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Kainen and the National Endowment for the Arts, 1975.13.

Biography

An Abstract Expressionist when he left the Art Institute of Chicago in 1956, Beal has since become a dedicated realist who sees art as a potentially powerful moral force. He has great regard for Platonic ideals of truth, beauty, and goodness, and admires both the realism of seventeenth-century Dutch painting and the compositional authority of Renaissance art. Since moving to New York in the late 1950s with his wife, painter Sondra Freckelton, Beal has painted still lifes, portraits, and landscapes, although in recent years his most ambitious undertakings have been large-scale allegories and myths. In describing his approach, Beal calls himself a "life painter" and says he is committed to human over aesthetic concerns. Yet his intricate complexes of figures and surface patterns, along with his adroit handling of space, reveal his sophisticated, accomplished sense of composition.

Virginia M. Mecklenburg Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press for the National Museum of American Art, 1987)