top of page
My art compels viewers to confront the immediacy of the human condition, reminding them of their own humanity in an era where digital life threatens to engulf us. My work has been described as possessing a sense of urgency. And there is an urgent need to truly know and understand one another, especially as technology continues to increase the distance between us.

Martin Beck's story

Martin Beck's career stands as a testament to the indomitable human spirit and the transformative power of art. Renowned for his evocative works, Beck captures the intricate nuances of contemporary existence. From moments of beauty and turmoil to instances of grief, his art portrays the complexities of life. However, Beck's artistic journey often encountered disruptions caused by the debilitating condition of Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), a systemic and inflammatory form of arthritis.

Despite being diagnosed with AS in his late thirties, Martin Beck coped with the disease for a significant period. Nevertheless, its physical limitations eventually impacted his art practice and other aspects of his life. Beck refused to let this condition define him. Instead, he channeled his personal struggle as a catalyst for change. Adapting to these changes, Beck redirected his passion toward psychotherapy, enabling him to reevaluate his goals and priorities and ultimately assist others in overcoming their own challenges. While remaining an artist at his core, Beck now employs his skills to unravel and comprehend the complexities of the human condition, one client at a time.

Throughout his career, Martin Beck has received numerous awards and honors for his exceptional work. Notably, he is a two-time recipient of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship. He has also served as an artist in residence at the Medana Art Festival in Slovenia in 2009 and at The Vermont Studio Center. His artwork has been showcased in prestigious exhibitions and publications, including American Artist, Manifest Press International Drawing Annual 13, and Create!Magazine.

Beck's exploration of the human condition in his art draws inspiration from an existential and humanistic viewpoint. In our current era of emerging technology, political turmoil, and climate change, mainstream and online media too often present a distorted view of the world and ourselves, leading to outrage, hopelessness, and anxiety. Throughout his career, Martin Beck harnessed the power of the human figure to express and transcend our shared humanity. As a therapist, he delves into the depths of our collective experiences, uncovering paths to healing and personal growth.

Artist Statement

The Mind

My work delves into the intricate landscape of the psyche, where the conscious and unconscious intertwine. It captures the essence of a dreamlike place, conveying inner worlds in constant flux. The interplay between figuration and abstraction defines my art as I explore existential and personal themes. It is a journey between our inner lives and the reality that envelops us as we navigate the eternal realm of dreams and the ever-changing cadence of daily existence. It is a place and time where creations take shape and unravel simultaneously.

Through my work, I strive to encapsulate the shared human experience at its most essential level. Regardless of language and culture, my work explores universal emotions and ideas. Amidst challenging times, I uncover delicate moments of happiness and beauty that grace our lives.

My art-making process mirrors the perpetual dance between order and chaos. Accidental forms and marks emerge by disrupting the still-wet paint or chalk, guiding subsequent layers and resulting in images that convey movement and stillness. At times, disturbing palimpsests emerge from earlier iterations, creating ghostly impressions.

My work explores the illusions of order and control amidst reality's inherent unpredictability, capturing our ephemeral and vulnerable nature. It is an artistic expression that speaks to our shared human experience on the most fundamental level. Embracing emotions and concepts that transcend boundaries, I delve into themes of loss, grief, love, hope, and joy.


The Body

At the core of my work is a deep reverence for the human form—a testament to our fragile existence. Through every stroke of paint and chalk, I aim to capture and reveal the essence of being human. Existentialism, focusing on individual experience, freedom, and choice, shapes my exploration of natural form, color, and light.

My personal journey through chronic illness and pain intertwines with my art, resulting in a vulnerable representation of the body—a subject both complex and delicate. Hours spent observing figures, clothed and unclothed, allow me to reflect on the shared vulnerability that unites us all.

My condition influences the subjects I choose and shapes my artistic approach. Working quickly, I engage in a dialogue with my materials—layered pastels and paint embodying life's urgency and spontaneity. Drawing and painting from life is an immersive process where each line and hue mirrors a pulsating, living energy.

The celebration of the individual has always fascinated me as a universal experience expressed in art. Through my work, I aim to contribute to a dialogue with the universal, offering a deeply personal yet universally resonant perspective.

My creative process is an homage to the human condition. Each piece I create is not merely aesthetically valuable but also a testament to human connection—a shared experience preserved on canvas. With love, empathy, and unwavering curiosity, I continue to evolve as an artist, compelled to honor the profound beauty I perceive in humanity.

Artifical Intelligence

Venturing beyond the canvas and the familiar strokes of the brush, I have long embraced the tangible essence of humanity through art. With traditional techniques finely honed to portray the intricacies of the human form, my practice has been defined by a commitment to capturing the depth and authenticity of people in every piece. And yet, there's a stirring beneath the surface, an eagerness to explore how the burgeoning sphere of Artificial Intelligence might intertwine with those time-tested methods.

Engaged with the emerging narrative of AI in the art space, I have turned to introspection and inspiration from these intelligent systems to reinterpret my existing works. This creative dialogue with technology is a testament to my approach, where art and machine learning collide and converse, probing the potential for exploitation within the capitalist framework that frequently underpins artistic production. Through this lens, AI becomes not just a tool, but a collaborator that both challenges and expands the very definition of what it means to create, presenting provocative questions about authorship and ingenuity. The vision laid forth is of a world where AI is disentangled from the clutches of commercial monopolization, free to serve as a catalyst propelling human creativity to uncharted pinnacles, driving the art world into an era of unbound exploration and democratized expression.

  • 2021
    Waterloo Arts, 2021 Waterloo Arts Festival, 8/6 – 9/18. Cleveland, OH Works on Paper Gallery, The Codex Project, 9/2 – 9/29. Philadelphia, PA Brand Library and Art Center, Brand 49 Annual National Juried Exhibition of Works on Paper, 9/11 – 10/30. Glendale, CA, Catalog. McNeese State University, 34th Annual McNeese National Works on Paper Exhibition, 3/25 – 5/6. Lake Charles, LA University of North Carolina, Asheville, Drawing Discourse: 12th Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Drawing, 1/22 – 2/21. Asheville, NC Catalog
  • 2020
    Reece Museum, FL3TCH3R Exhibit: Social and Politically Engaged Art, 10/5–12/11. Johnson City, TN. Catalog Waterloo Arts, 2020 Waterloo Arts Festival, 10/9 – 11/14. Cleveland, OH Malamegi Lab15 Art Prize, Milan, Italy, Summer 2020 Healdsburg Center for the Arts, Figure It Out, 4/4-5/17. Healdsburg, CA The Arts Council of Fayetteville, Size Matters, 4/24 – 5/16. Fayetteville, NC Todd Art Gallery, Middle Tennessee State University, Form, Line, Shape, Space, 3/12-4/1. Murfreesboro, TN. Catalog LaGrange Art Museum, Third LaGrange Southeast Regional Exhibition, 2/21-4/18. LaGrange, GA. Catalog
  • 2019
    Lexington Art League, The Present of Things Past, 7/19-8/23. Lexington, KY Site:Brooklyn, Red, 6/14–7/13. New York, NY Manifest Gallery, One Shot (art made in one sitting), 3/8-4/5. Cincinnati, OH M S Rezny Gallery, pal•imp•sest(2):bearing traces of an earlier form, 2/19–3/30. Lexington, KY Giles Gallery, Eastern Kentucky University, Chautauqua Exhibition on the theme of Truths and Consequences, 1/22 - 2/15. Richmond, KY University of North Carolina, Asheville, Drawing Discourse: 10th Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Drawing, 1/18 – 2/22. Asheville, NC. Catalog
  • 2018
    ARC Gallery, pal•imp•sest:bearing traces of an earlier form, 11/28-12/22. Chicago, IL Site:Brooklyn, Mixed Media, 11/9–12/15. New York, NY Moon Gallery, Berry College, Blot, 10/17–12/15. Mt. Berry, GA Barrett Art Center, New Directions 2018, 10/6–11/17. Poughkeepsie, NY Healdsburg Center for the Arts, Figure Study- Hidden Story, 9/8-10/21. Healdsburg, CA ARC Gallery, Pride and Prejudice, 6/20–7/14. Chicago, IL The Arts Council of Southeast Missouri, Art and Fear, 6/1–7/28. Cape Girardeau, MO
  • 2017
    Purdue University Galleries, Drawing Resurfaced II, 11/13-12/15. West Lafayette, IN. Catalog George Segal Gallery, Art Connections 13, 11/19-12/15. Montclair, NJReece Museum, FL3TCH3R Exhibit: Social and Politically Engaged Art, 10/9–12/15. Johnson City, TN. Catalog Manifest Gallery, Nude, 8/18–9/15. Cincinnati, OH TAG Gallery, CA Open 2017, 8/9–8/26. Los Angeles, CA. Catalog
  • 2020
    Figure It Out. Healdsburg: Healdsburg Center for the Arts, 4/2020 Size Matters, The Arts Council of Fayetteville, Fayetteville, NC, 4/2020
  • 2019
    International Drawing Annual 13. Cincinnati: Manifest Press. “Temporal Slippage at the MS Rezny Gallery,” Under Main, March 25, 2019, “A Quiet Revolution: Interview with Martin Beck,” Create!Magazine. February 26, 2019 Darland, Joel, “Truth(s) and Consequences,” Under Main, February 10, 2019, 10th Annual Drawing Discourse. Asheville: University of North Carolina, Asheville, 2019. “Martin Beck.” Create!Magazine, February 2019.
  • 2018
    “Art and Life with Martin Beck” VoyageChicago (The Thought-Provokers: Celebrating Artists & Creatives). December 18, 2018 “An Artistic Voyage: exploring local creative and artistic works". VoyageChicago, 8/30/2018. Figure Study - Hidden Story. Healdsburg: Healdsburg Center for the Arts, 8/2018
  • 2017
    Kamholtz, Jonathan, “The Place of the Nude: 9th Annual NUDE: Exploring the Uncovered Human Form,” Aeqai, September 23, 2017, Kissel, Hunter, “The Human Body, Reconsidered.” Under Main, September 4, 2017,
  • Awards, 2018 - 2021
    2021 Brand Library and Art Center, Brand 49, Robert Brown Award 2020 LaGrange Art Museum, Third LaGrange Southeast Regional Exhibition, Best in Show 2019 Vermont Studio Center. Artist in Residence, September 2019, Johnson, VT 2019 Eastern Kentucky University Chautauqua Exhibition, Award of Distinction 2018 Southeastern Missouri Arts Council, Art and Fear, Honorable Mention
  • 1986
    State University of New York at Buffalo, BFA Buffalo, NY
  • 1992
    Carnegie Mellon University, MFA Pittsburgh, PA
  • 2023
    University of Kentucky, School of Social Work, MSW Lexington, KY
Vitae Selected
bottom of page