(1923 - 1995)
Among the foremost figural painters to emerge in the mid-20th century, Robert Beauchamp combined abstraction, representation, and the force of his own response to the world in his exuberantly expressive paintings and drawings.
“The first thing is that it has to have personality, to be worth looking at,” he once claimed about his approach to his work.
Robert Beauchamp was born in Denver, Colorado, in 1923. His high school teacher, R. Idris Thomas, nurtured his childhood interest in art and facilitated a scholarship for Beauchamp to the Colorado Springs Arts Center. There, Beauchamp studied with Boardman Robinson and later and attended Cranbrook Academy of Art before working with Abstract Expressionist Hans Hofmann in New York.
As Hans Hofmann’s student, Beauchamp absorbed the tenets of European Modernism and American Abstract Expressionism - with which he eventually broke: in 1953 he gave up abstract art, believing it to be too esoteric and remote from immediate life, and returned to painting the figure.
Beauchamp’s approach, however, was to “distort, fantasize and pile in the images … to paint objects with the subtleties of natural forms and the subjectivity possible through abstraction.”
While abstraction, with its focus on color and form, underlies his compositions, he filled canvas and paper with psychologically acute portraits of himself and others, nudes, animals, and objects of all kinds. These images emerge from the patchwork of colors and brushstrokes that Beauchamp would apply semi-unconsciously, intuitively, fueled by the joys and anguish of his own life.
His work is, in effect, a kind of surrealist expressionism.
In the decades after he began exhibiting, Beauchamp received several grants, traveled to Rome on a Fulbright fellowship (1959), and held several teaching positions.
Important group exhibitions include "Ten Independents", Guggenheim Museum, New York; Institute of International Education, Artists Abroad; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Carnegie International, Carnegie Inst., Pittsburgh, PA; and the Walker Art Inst., Minneapolis.
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Whitney Museum of Art, New York, NY; the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC; the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; The National Gallery, Washington, DC; the Carnegie Institute,Pittsburgh, PA; the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; The Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn,NY; the National Gallery, Washington, DC; and the Denver Museum of Art, Denver, CO are among the public collections holding work by Beauchamp.
Biographical information from The Columbus Museum of Art, Georgia; Artsy; The Smithsonian Institute; The Boca Raton Museum of Art