About William Beckman
William Beckman is best known for his realist full-length portraiture, in which subjects look directly out of the canvas. Rendered in oil and charcoal and sometimes portrayed nude, Beckman’s subjects wear expressions of poise and self-possession, mostly devoid of emotion but sometimes revealing traces of defiance, confrontation, disgruntlement or, occasionally, vulnerability. In his self-portraits, produced over many decades, Beckman reflects on his own mortality; in Studio No. 3 (Ducati) (2004–5), the artist presents himself clad in head-to-toe leather, standing firmly next to a red Ducati motorbike—a display of strength and youthfulness that denies the age evident in his weathered face and furrowed brow. The artist’s technique of outlining his figures sharply against flat colored backdrops has been likened to painters of the Northern Renaissance such as Albrecht Dürer.
American, b. 1942, Maynard, Minnesota