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Project: Bill Beckley


The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

Bill Beckley. The Museum of Modern Art, New York,...

Bill Beckley. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, 1978

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Bill Beckley's narrative art works, combining visual and verbal images, are on view in the first-floor galleries of the Museum of Modern Art from October 18 through November 28. Directed by Kynaston McShine, Curator of Painting and Sculpture, PROJECTS: BILL BECKLEY is the latest in the Museum's continuing series of exhibitions exploring new directions in contemporary art.


Beckley juxtaposes mural-scale color photographs of familiar images and objects with panels of text that tell seemingly commonplace stories. By monumentalizing the banal, these photographs, which Beckley laboriously processes himself, transform the ordinary into the extra-ordinary. In a similar fashion, Beckley's texts, while appearing to tell easily comprehensible tales, soon reveal themselves full of puns, double-ententres, and unspoken "other" meanings. Thus, both images and text undercut the notion of stable visual or linguistic reference.


"The elements in Bill Beckley's compositions connote the fragments of a realistic and inspired kaleidoscope," notes Mr. McShine. "He has introduced the narrative as an extension of conceptual art. The stories are puzzles, mysterious and evasive. The visual images seem complementary, and yet often are incongruous. His visual and verbal imagery displays a carefully restrained wit. The total impact is fresh and sensuous, the structure coherent and surprisingly logical."

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