New York

Rosemarie Beck


The recent paintings of Rosemarie Beck mark a significant advance over her previous work, but by the same token they reveal some basic weaknesses, which, in her last show, were not so evident if only because the problems were less boldly faced. Miss Beck’s last show consisted of intimist interiors and figures painted in flat, lozenge-shaped strokes. The subjects were attractive, no doubt, but the lozenges were only decorative, in that they made for a pattern that was of the surface alone: the pattern was too broken to allow of contour, but too flat to generate volume; which is to say that it was the instrument of an ostensibly figurative style, but one in which the objects had no integrity of either outline or mass. In the present show, the little lozenges have given way to much broader strokes, and one can now talk of shape—although, this being so, one measures all the more clearly the uncertainty of the drawing and the volumes. Still, there is now a real sense that these are objects.

They are objects because they are subjects, for the most part scenes of couples making love. This is (to me, at least) a very surprising development in Miss Beck’s work. The themes of her earlier, intimist paintings were much more conventional; those of the recent paintings must certainly stem from a deeper personal impetus, and perhaps it is this which has led to a greater coherence of form. These paintings have not faced up to the implications of their subjects as fully as they might have, in my opinion—for example, the colors are the strong hues of Venetian painting, but here they are whitened down, which reduces their strength and the difficulty of managing them—but if Miss Beck remains with this range of subject, or some other of equally great personal significance, the formal and technical aspects of her work will certainly gain.

Jerrold Lanes