Frieze New York
Bill Beckley, the Eighties

May 3-5, 2018

Booth SP21, Randalls Island, New York

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Bill Beckley [American, b. 1946]
The Bird Who Lived With Lincoln, 1988
Wall paper, formica, aluminum, wood, black and white photograph
45 1/2 x 98 x 26 1/2 inches
115.6 x 248.9 x 67.3 cm
(Inv# AB11748)

For the 2018 edition of Frieze New York, albertz benda is honored to present historic 1980’s sculptures by conceptual artist Bill Beckley.



Beckley was part of a radical group of young artists based in SoHo at 112 Greene Street, which included Gordon Matta-Clark, Vito Acconci, and Alice Aycock, among others.  Eager to cast off the restrictive aesthetics of Minimalism, Beckley broke down boundaries between traditional media formats and emerged on the international art scene in the 1970’s as a major exponent of Narrative Art.


Beginning in the 1980s, Beckley underwent a period of introspection and experimentation reexamining his practice of sculptural constructions.  While the 70’s Narrative works engage senses beyond sight through evocative language and color photographs, the wall pieces from the 1980s are immersive, incorporating elements of texture, sound, and monumental scale.



Two wall sculptures, The Bird Who Lived with Lincoln (1988) and Testical Glide (1987), fuse seemingly disparate sculptural, photographic, and textural elements to create strange and beautiful poetry out of the mundane.   An irreverently maximalist turn on Minimalism’s primary structures, the monumental hook-shaped Formica construction Up Yours (1987) invokes playfulness where sensory experiences are swapped, akin to synesthesia.



The ‘Pogo’ works include seemingly functional pogo-sticks that have been stripped of their original purpose after being mounted on text and image panels.  These pieces reflect Beckley’s ongoing examination of the relationship between physical actions, vocal reactions, and visual information.

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