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 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.
David Beck 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. He moved to New York after college and later settled in San Francisco, where he lived until his death in 2018. Beck has had numerous gallery and museum solo shows, including exhibitions at Hackett Mill Gallery in San Francisco, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and Allan Stone Gallery in New York. His work has also been featured in group exhibitions at The Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, and MoMA PS1 in New York. Beck has been reviewed in The Smithsonian Magazine, Art & Antiques, The New York Times and Art in America.