Myths Retold: Paintings by Rosemarie Beck

On view January 26 - April 1, 2023

  • four students sit on furniture. one looks at the camera, the other three look away. Bachelor of Fine Arts Students, 2023. Right to left, Molly Maynard, Olivia Williams, Madeline Pender, Julie LaRue

    Bachelor of Fine Arts Students, 2023. Left to righ, Molly Maynard, Olivia Williams, Madeline Pender, Julie LaRue

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Myths Retold: Paintings by Rosemarie Beck presents a collection of paintings and embroideries spanning over 40 years of the artist’s career from the mid-1970s through the early 2000s, exploring themes of gendered relationships, power, oppression through scenes from classical Greek mythology and English literature. The paintings and embroideries in this exhibition draw from sources such as, Sophocles’ Antigone (441 BCE), Euripides’ Hippolytus (428 BCE), and Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1611 CE). Another major source was Ovid’s Metamorphoses (8 CE), which was also a primary source for myths during the Renaissance.

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

Rosemarie Beck (1923-2003), was active for nearly 50 years as a painter and teacher. She was an intellectual and passionate force in the development of contemporary art movements in the United States, working early within circles of the influential abstract expressionist painters of the New York School and as an instructor at the then-fledgling New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting & Sculpture. Though considered by art historians to be a student of second wave Abstract Expressionism, Beck began figurative drawing in the late 1950s and remained focused on the movement and composition of figures in paintings for the rest of her career. Rosemarie Beck was originally trained as a violinist and participated in theater at Oberlin College, and later went on to take graduate level art history courses at New York University. The art critic Martica Sawin points to these three “strands” of Beck’s early artistic life as formative for a focus on compositions in her figurative work in the decades to come. These “strands,” combined with her early years as a painter immersed in the intellectual and artistic world of the New York School, Beck continued to “carry on with each painting the dialogue between image and abstraction that gives to the best representational art its contemporary validity.” (Sawin, 2005).

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


Would you like to bring your class to explore Myths Retold? Contact Education and Outreach Manager Molly Bolick to discuss experiential learning opportunities that can support your curriculum.



Sawin, M. (2005). Rosemarie Beck. Woman’s Art Journal, 26(1), 3–7.


Rosemarie Beck, 1999, Phaedra, oil on linen, 52 x 64 inches