EYES IN™ Magazine Editor-in-Chief Vivian Van Dijk was impressed by Tulsa artist Ford Beckman's work exhibited in Miami. The late artist's life saw many extremes from poverty to wealth and back again; in the mid-90s due the ups and downs of the art world and later buffeted through circumstance and the Great Recession, the otherwise successful artist was forced to find work for a time in a doughnut shop.
Though his works have been collected by galleries the world over, he initially, and perhaps surprisingly, found success as a golfer; later, Ford Beckman was handpicked by Ralph Lauren and commenced a successful career as a fashion designer.
His latest series, "Pop Targets" is featured in EYES IN™ Magazine, and several works are featured at JRB Art Gallery.
Ford Beckman first rose to prominence amid the wave of Post Neo-Expressionist artists in the late 1980's that came to define "New Art" in New York. His instant popularity thrust him into the limelight of the early '90s art scene.
He has been collected by Giuseppe Panza and the Armand Hammer Foundation and admired by Leo Castelli; and his paintings have hung alongside Andy Warhol's. Beckman formed a close friendship with well-known artist Cy Twombly and befriended others who became a tight circle and included Donald Baechler, Julian Schnabel, and the collector Douglas Andrews.
Ford Beckman was cultivated by German art dealer Adolf von Ribbentrop and was soon showcased at The Kestnergessellschaft in Hanover. However, politics and the fickle economy of the art world soon devastated Ford Beckman to the point that his impressive collection, along with his personal items were auctioned off to pay his debts and tax burden.
About his trials, Beckman is quoted as saying, "'I've known good times and not-so-good times, just like everyone else.'"
In this article, Vivian has chosen to share some of Beckman's drip paintings, and, according to Michael Paul Mason of The Believer Mag, "Drip works are a litmus test for a painter because they reveal so much about an artist's maturity and skill. Beckman’s piece has a surface texture as smooth as a printed poster, a subtle boast that contributes to its contained but balanced gyroscopic whir."
Interestingly, Beckman has said, "'All my paintings are self-portraits.'"
Ford Arnold Beckman, a successful fashion designer-turned-artist whose paintings are in museums and private collections around the world, died November 18, 2014, at his home in Tulsa from a heart attack. He was 62.
His works can be found in the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Saatchi Collection in London; the Essl Collection in Vienna; and, of course, the Panza Collection in Italy.
Ford Beckman's survivors include his wife, Cynthia Beckman, and daughter, Isabella Beckman.
As quoted in Tulsa World, "'He had high highs and low lows,” said a friend, Ben Ferrell of Tulsa. 'But even in the worst times I never heard him say a negative word. He was a great artist, but even more, an amazing person.
"Although he had walked away from art for a while, Beckman came back to it. He recently had been hard at work on a new painting series, 'Pop Targets.'"
A fund has been set up and dedicated to the care of his disabled widow and special-needs daughter, Ferrell said.
Donations may be mailed to the Ford Beckman Studio, 6450 S. Lewis Ave., Suite 220, Tulsa, OK, 74136.
The Whitney Museum recently acquired three of his POP Clown Paintings for its permanent collection. More of Ford Beckman's works can be seen at ArtNet.