new-york

Jack Beal, Envy, Self-Portrait with Hat, 1977, oil on canvas, 26 x 22".

Jack Beal

George Adams Gallery

Jack Beal, Envy, Self-Portrait with Hat, 1977, oil on canvas, 26 x 22".

“Imitation is natural to man from childhood,” Aristotle wrote in Poetics, which is why it is “natural for all to delight in works of imitation.” This remains true even for objects that are “painful to see,” such as “the forms . . . of the lowest animals and of dead bodies.” There are no dead bodies in Jack Beal’s imitations—unless one counts the memento-mori skull in Self-Portrait with Anatomy No. 3, 1986–87—but there is an animal, if not the lowest, in Still Life with Cat, 1999. Indeed, the subjects of most of Beal’s paintings are conventionally delightful, such as the flowers in Still-Life with Anemones, 1962; Self-Portrait with Daffodils, 1982; and Self-Portrait with Rudbeckias and Daylilies, 1998, among others. This show—a memorial exhibition following the artist’s death this past September at the age of eighty-two—included a total of twenty-one oil works

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