David Beck (1953-2018) was born in Muncie, Indiana in 1953. After a year at Indiana University Bloomington, he studied painting and sculpture at Carnegie-Mellon, and received his BFA in 1976. That year he moved to New York and was included in a group exhibition at Allan Stone Gallery, where he exhibited regularly from then on. In 2006 the Smithsonian American Museum of Art commissioned MVSEVM, which is on permanent display. Beck has been reviewed in The New York Times, the Smithsonian Magazine, Art & Antiques Magazine, and Art in America. Beck has had exhibitions at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art, MoMA PS1, and others.
Although his work contains a myriad of references – Joseph Cornell, German gothic carving, American folk and outsider art, comic book humor, mechanical toys, European cabinetry and Medieval miniatures – David Beck’s sculptures stand alone as a unique and powerful synthesis. As a practitioner of the utmost precision and a master of simple mechanics, Beck makes small objects of wonder that are never quite what they seem. Whether it be a secret compartment, a window, a lever, or a knob, his creations are ensconced in the covetousness and intimacy of reliquaries and wunderkammer. Though the objects are often ripe with holy allusions, Beck cuts the saintliness with a pervasive sense of humor and a playful iconoclasm. By utilizing age-old techniques Beck imbues classical objects of veneration with a modern twist, creating a world unquestionably his own.