A showcase of artists in Northern New York (NNY) and the North Country
Jack Beal, Optimistic New Realist Painter
Jack Beal An His Wife spent summers on Black Lake in the Town of Macome Painting in their studio’s. Jack Passed away in 2013.
Mr. Beal was part of a group of young American artists who rejected the psychologically driven Abstract Expressionist movement of the postwar era in favor of art based on commonly recognizable things and experiences. The new wave included Pop artists like Claes Oldenburg, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, who leavened their work with postmodernist humor and whose work was more traditional but no less ambitious.
Mr. Beal was known for minutely detailed portraits, landscapes, still lifes and narrative works, like “The History of Labor,” a series of four murals he painted from 1974 to 1977 for the Labor Department’s headquarters in Washington. Their populist optimism earned Mr. Beal a dubious distinction.
The murals established Mr. Beal “as the most important Social Realistto have emerged in American painting since the 1930s,” wrote Hilton Kramer, the art critic for The New York Times. “Given the generally low esteem — a disfavor bordering at times on contempt — that the Social Realist impulse has suffered in recent decades, this is not a position likely to be a cause of envy.”
Jack took to drawing early and developed his interest while studying biology and anatomy at the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary, now known as Old Dominion University.
The school was where he met Sondra, Ms. Freckelton, a fellow student. They married in 1955 and moved to New York City in 1957, then to a farm upstate in Oneonta in the 1970s.
Mr. Beal’s paintings have been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Virginia Museum of Art and the National Portrait Gallery. They can also be seen in the subway.