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Biography


Robert Beck graduated with a BFA from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts Film and Television Department in 1983, and the Independent Study Program, Studio Program, of the Whitney Museum of American Art a decade later.

In 2008, Beck changed his father’s name as a work, or act, of art by a single vowel to Buck.

Buck’s approach to art-making merges visual art, cinematic, televisual aesthetics and strategies to singular effect. He is best known for his 2D, sculptural, and installation work, and for his precise use of materials, ranging from traditional art supplies to such non-art materials as latent fingerprint powder, mortician’s wax, industrial reflective paint, and gunpowder. His attention to the viewer’s experience of his art, and his privileging of unexpected interpretations, is the heritage of an eclectic list of influences, including Marcel Duchamp and Bruce Nauman, Robert Bresson and David Lynch, film theorist Carol Clover and novelist Cormac McCarthy, the true-crime genre, forensic science, and the teachings of Jacques Lacan.

Buck’s use of “the cut,” a film editing technique that has profoundly influenced his art practice and self-representation (from Beck to Buck), is explicit in the context of his moving image work. Expanding beyond the cinematic trope of montage, Buck’s approach to the cut, and with it metonymy, considers the associative power of contingent images and events, and is understood to be as much an artistic, as psychological, process. While the nucleus of his work is the self, identity, and subjectivity, refrains include America, authorship, masculinity, violence, and the remainder.

In an introductory text for Beck’s solo exhibition dust at the Wexner Center for the Arts in 2007, curator Bill Horrigan writes: “... It’s the moving image—cinema, video art, television—that haunts [Beck’s] drawings, photographs, even sculptures, partly through his insistence that any given piece derives its expressivity from the images he places alongside it (the theory of montage as an organizing principle: each single film frame requires every other one to mimic reality), and partly through how the exquisitely hand-crafted stillness of his imagery discloses the artist’s imagination to be one that’s compelled to envision what he renders in time.”

Beck began his career as an arts administrator in 1983 at Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), a pioneering media arts organization that is recognized as the leading international resource for artists’ media works. Beck was integrally involved in EAI from the 1980s to the early 2000s, in roles including Technical Director, Chief Video Editor, and Special Projects Director. Beck’s contribution to the media arts field has included curating, teaching and writing.

Recent solo exhibitions include: "Robert Beck: Vestige", Ulterior Gallery, New York; “Exposure”, Angela Meleca Gallery, Columbus, Ohio (2016); “Robert Beck/Robert Buck: States of America”, Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, Ohio (2016); “The Shrine (from e to u)”, an installation at School of the Art Institute of Chicago with Iceberg Projects, Chicago (2015); “Robert Beck/Robert Buck: Collected Works”, Rennie Collection, Vancouver, Canada (2013).

Buck’s work has been shown in numerous group exhibitions, including: Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, Texas; New Art Projects, London, England; Invisible-Exports, New York; Wellcome Collection, London, England; Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus; Blum & Poe, Los Angeles; the San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco; Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels, Belgium; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, England; and more.

His works are in multiple collections including, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio; Dallas Museum of Art, Texas; Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York; Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels; Rennie Collection at Wing Sang, Vancouver; Zabludowicz Collection, London; Cranford Collection, London; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Stonescape, Napa Valley, California; Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, Ohio; Matisse Museum, Nice, France; Neue Gesellschaft fur bildende Kunst e.v., Berlin, Kunstverein, Hamburg, Germany; and Kunstmuseum, Lucerne, Switzerland; J. Getty Museum of Art, Los Angeles; and a collaborative work with Donald Moffett at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Beck was a 1999 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award recipient. In 1995, he was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, in Printmaking/Drawing/Artists’ Books, as well as an Art Matters, Inc. grant. He won First Prize in the Experimental Category of the “Visions of US Contest”, sponsored by the SONY Corporation of America and the American Film Institute, in 1991, and the “Made In 8” Competition, sponsored by The Kitchen and the 8mm Video Council, in 1989.

Since 2009, Buck has been a participant in the Lacanian Compass, where, in collaboration with Cyrus Saint Amand Poliakoff, he organizes “Culture & Psychoanalysis”, an ongoing series of seminars devoted to contemporary art and culture.

Robert Beck was born in 1959 in Towson, Maryland. Robert Buck lives and works in New York City and Far West Texas.

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