Born in 1946 in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, a small farming town in the Amish countryside, Bill Beckley attended college at Kutztown University from 1964 to 1968 and in 1970 received a Master of Fine Arts from Tyler School of Art, Temple University. There he studied with Italo Scanga, who introduced him to former students and friends, including Bruce Nauman, Dan Flavin, Sol LeWitt, and Marcia Tucker, then a curator at the Whitney Museum. His work was included in “Art in the Mind” (1969), the first conceptual art exhibition in the United States.
He moved from Philadelphia to New York City in the summer of 1970 and lived for a time on a sailboat off City Island. He was one of the artists (along with Gordon Matta Clark, Rafi Ferrer, Barry Le Va, Jeffery Lew, Bill Bollinger, and Alan Saret) who organized the first exhibition of the legendary gallery 112 Greene Street Workshop in SoHo in October 1970.
Bill Beckley’s photographs have been included in the Paris Biennale, The Venice Biennale, Documenta, and The Whitney Biennial. His work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum; The Museum of Modern Art; The Guggenheim, New York; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC; The Daimler Collection, Stuttgart; The Hoffman Collection, Berlin, and the Tate Gallery, London.