Myths Retold: Paintings by Rosemarie Beck

Monday, March 20, 2023 - 10:00am to 4:00pm

Museum of Art

Myths Retold: Paintings by Rosemarie Beck presents a collection of paintings and embroideries spanning more than 40 years of the artist’s career from the mid-1970s through the early 2000s, exploring gendered relationships and universal themes of love, sacrifice, and power, through scenes from classical Greek mythology and English literature. 


Myths Retold: Paintings by Rosemarie Beck is enriched by the scholarly insights of UNH students in the course, CLAS 601: The Power of Myth; Paul Robertson, Senior Lecturer in Classics, Humanities, and Italian Studies; and R. Scott Smith, Department Chair, Classics, Humanities, and Italian Studies. The students’ exhibition labels, and catalog entries help viewers understand the nuances in Beck’s interpretation and the relevance of studying ancient myths and their literary sources today. 


Rosemarie Beck (1923-2003) was active for nearly fifty years as a painter and teacher. She was an intellectual and passionate force, soaking up contemporary art movements in 1940s New York as a student studying with the Surrealist painter Kurt Seligmann, abstract expressionist painter Robert Motherwell and later befriending Philip Guston, her neighbor, in Woodstock, New York. Though considered by art historians to be a student of second wave Abstract Expressionism, Beck abandoned abstraction in the late 1950s focusing on narrative paintings inspired by Greek mythology and English literature for the remainder of her career. This exhibition includes seventeen paintings and two dazzling embroideries (she turned to needlework when she tired of standing at her easel) depicting pivotal moments in the lives of female characters at the heart of classical mythology.  


This exhibition was made possible by a gift of paintings from the Rosemarie Beck Foundation (RBF) which wished to see Beck’s legacy as an artist and teacher continue. The RBF recognized the educational mission of the Museum of Art, donating 12 paintings and studies to the collection, four of which are on view. Beck inspired generations of students at Queens College of New York, Vassar College, Middlebury College, the Vermont Studio Center, Parsons School of Design, and the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture, where she was on the faculty until shortly before she died. 


Works by Rosemarie Beck lent by the Rosemarie Beck Foundation. All exhibitions are supported by the Friends of the Museum of Art. 


Myths Retold: Paintings by Rosemarie Beck, is on view January 26 – April 1, 2023. Check the Museum of Art website for related progarmming and events.


Image credit: Rosemarie Beck, Phaedra 1999, oil on linen, 52” x 64” 

Rosemarie Beck, Phaedra 1999, oil on linen, 52” x 64”.jpg
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Molly Bolick