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A visit to Mark Beard’s studio is like discovering Michelangelo’s lair: oil paintings layer the walls, lifedrawings litter the table at the feet of heroic bronzes; ceramics, architectural maquettes are everywhere; virtuosity, in every medium. And then it gets even more interesting.
Brechtoldt Streeruwitz, 1890 - 1973
Brecholdt Streeruwitz, perhaps less influenced by the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and Hippolyte-Alexandre Michallon than Bruce Sargeant or Edith Cromwell, was nonetheless its product. Born in Vienna in 1985 into a burgerlich jeweler's family, he began regular drawing classes at the age of fifteen at the Kunstgewerbeschule. The Streeruwitz family would have wished for him to continue in the family business with his brother, but his own artistic impulses made that prospect impossible.
At the outbreak of World War I, Streeruwitz enlisted in the Dragoons. He was sent to the Slovenian-Italian front, where a shrapnel wound disfigured the left side of his face and forced him out of the war. At the conclusion of hostilities he spent time in Berlin and finally London, where he enrolled in the evening classes at Slade in 1920. He began a life of back-and-forth between Vienna and London. He married the upper-class daughter of the Mayor of Baden, with whom he had two children. The marriage was unsucessful, however, and his wife remained in the family house on the Colloredogasse.
Streeruwitz was apparently not well-liked at the Slade. Bruce Sargeant noted in a 1936 letter to Edith Cromwell that Streeruwitiz had a knack for saying the "perfectly wrong thing", and after two years under Michallon, lack of funds obliged Streeruwitz to return to Austria. In 1934 the Viennese Civil War forced Streeruwitz to petition his former colleague Edith Cromwell for a place in her St. Ives cottage. Cromwell, who was a resident in the summers only, reluctantly agreed.
Streeruwitz remained there until 1937, when a small work of his was included in Hitler's Degenerate Art exhibition in Munich. Bolstered by this perverse credential, he gained a teaching position in the art department of a London Boys' school. Unhappy and embittered, he clung to the position through World War II, when he created his "Blitz" paintings. In 1950, interest in the artists condemned by Hitler as degenerate brought Streeruwitz a commission to decorate the dining room of a prominent New York Jewish family in their East 78th Street townhouse. It was the beginning of a series of moderate successes. He lived and showed in New York until his death in 1973, painting his "outmoded" Expressionism through Pop Art and the beginnings of Minimalism.
Edith Thayer Cromwell, 1893 - 1962
Edith ("Eddy") Thayer Cromwell was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1893 and died in St. Ives, Cornwall, in 1962. The premature death of her mother left Cromwell the only child of a liberal father who encouraged her artistic pursuits, sending her to study at the Slade in London at the age of nineteen.
It was there that she encountered Hippolyte-Alexandre Michallon. Cromwell responded to her teacher's strict discipline and the two remained friends until Michallon's death in the Cornish cottage she would inherit from him 1930.
At the onset of World War I, Edith returned to America and moved after a time in Boston to New York, where she met Charles Demuth and Mardsen Hartley. They took her to Alfred Steieglitz's gallery, 291 and introduced her to the American avant-garde.
After the first World War and the death of her father, Cromwell returned to the Slade in London and assisted Michallon in his evening classes, where she met young Bruce Sargeant in 1920. Cromwell developed an immediate rapport with the sensitive young man, encouraging him to study full-time and bringing him under the wing of the rigorous Michallon. She painted Sargeant's portrait in 1925 and remained his lifelong friend and confidante. In 1930 she moved to New York where she lived part-time, dividing her summers between St. Ives and landscape painting trips to France and New England.
Cromwell began mixing with a glamorous circle of jet-setting women and embarked upon a series of affairs. She later explored exotic themes ih her work. In the mid-'50s a series of heart attacks forced Edith into semi-retirement, where she painted until her death in 1962.
Hippolyte - Alexandre Michallon, 1849 -1930
The long and peripatetic artistic career of Hippolyte-Alexandre Michallon began in a conventional fashion. The only son of prosperous bourgeois parents in Tours, he first studied drawing with his mother, an accomplished amateur painter of insects. His father, an undertaker who appreciated his son's talent and supported his ambition to become a painter, sent him to Paris at age sixteen to enroll in the studio of Francois-Edouard Picot (1786-1868), an eminent history painter and professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, with whom he studied for three years, until Picot's death. Under his aging teacher's guidance and tutelage, Michallon entered the preliminary stages of the Prix de Rome contest at the Ecole three times, winning an Honorable Mention in 1869 for his composition entitled The Solider of the Marathon.
For the next twenty years Michallon regualarly exhibited paintings on historical and biblical themes at the Paris Salon, as well as commissioned portraits. By his own account, the most ambitious work of Michallon's career was a thirty-foot canvas depicting Noah's Ark, which he exhibited in the Salon in 1875. Michallon began painting atmospheric but zoologically correct images of exotic animals in the wild. These achieved a certain popularity among French and foreign collectors alike, providing Michallon with financial security for the first time in his career.
Michallon moved to England in 1893. His outstanding technical skills easily earned him a position on the faculty of the Slade School of Art in 1900. The craze for animal paintings proved short-lived. He continued to teach at Slade for the next two decades, but his classes gradually dwindled in size as the academic approach and methods he espoused went from outmoded to downright unpopular. Finally in 1922, finding himself reduced to a single pupil, the talented young American Bruce Sargeant, he retired from Slade, persuading Sargeant to leave with him and undergo private instruction at home.
Several years later he retired to a cottage at St. Ives, Cornwall, where he lived quietly until his death in 1930, forgotten by all but a few former students, among them Edith Thayer Cromwell, who nursed him during his final year, and Bruce Sargeant, who designed and executed the bronze memorial plaque in his honor in the tiny church of St. Ethylburga-by-the-Sea, where he is buried in the churchyard.
Brechtholdt Streeruwitz and Edith Thayer Cromwell's friendship in New York led to a shared pedagogy. They taught a program of "Art in the Schools" in their last years. Their most successful pupil was Peter Coulter. The influence of their Slade training, extending back to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts-influenced teacher Hippolyte-Alexandre Michallon, is expressed in Peter Coulter's painting, King Leopold's Ghost. Peter Coulter worked with political elements of holocausts such as the Armenian and Belgian. His work with the American slave trade and his many installations include his recent monumental work showing black rubber hands piled in the center of a gallery floor to express the horrors of the 1890s Congo holocaust.
As a friend and colleague of Peter Coulter, it is interesting for me to see a didactic lineage that we both share as well as an almost hereditary connection through my great Uncle Bruce and his colleagues. Through I have not had the successes of Peter Coulter, we have shared models, exhibitions and good times. It was Peter who introduced me to the novel use of Polaroid transfers, and for that I am grateful.
charcoal on paper
A visit to Mark’s studio is like discovering Michelangelo’s lair: oil paintings layer the walls, lifedrawings litter the table at the feet of heroic bronzes; ceramics, architectural maquettes are everywhere; virtuosity, in every medium. And then it gets even more interesting.
Mark’s talent is so overflowing that, years ago, he needed to channel himself into alter egos. Mark invented the persona of “Bruce Sargeant,” an imagined English artist, contemporary of E. M. Forster, Rupert Brooke, and John Sloan. Mark also created Bruce Sargeant’s teacher, Hippolyte-Alexandre Michallon, a 19th-century French Academist. Michallon also taught Edith Thayer Cromwell, an American avant-gardeist; and Brechtolt Steeruwitz, the German Expressionist, a most complex personality. Peter Coulter, the newest persona, represents the "third generation" as he was taught briefly by Thayer Cromwell and Streerowitz. The style of each of these artists is individual, brilliant and true.
Mark Beard is unprecedented, but not singular. Accomplished in every medium, he is more than a complete artist—he is at least six.
Solo Exhibitions (Selected)
2010/2011 Carrie Haddad Gallery, Hudson, NY
2009 Clamp Art, New York City
2007 John Stevenson Gallery, New York City
2005 John Stevenson Gallery, New York City
2005 Jonathan Edwards House Gallery, Yale University, New Haven
2004 John Stevenson Gallery, New York City
2003 John Stevenson Gallery, New York City
1999 Wessel + O’Connor Gallery, New York City
1999 Galerie Wolf, Berlin
1998 Wessel + O’Connor Gallery, New York City
1998 Rivaga Gallery, Washington, D.C.
1997 Wessel + O’Connor Gallery, New York City
1995 Grey Art Gallery, New York University, New York City
1994 Here Art, New York City
1991 Galerie Niel Ewerbeck, Vienna
1990 Recent Works at Helio Gallery, New York City
1990 Theatre Portraits, Home for Contemporary Theatre and Art, New York City
1988 Staatsgalerie Moderne Kunst, Munch
1988 Galerie Biedermann, Munich
1987 Home for Contemporary Theatre and Art, New York City
1986 Galerie Biedermann, Munich
1985 The Harcus Gallery, Boston
Group Exhibitions (Selected)
2009 Carrie Haddad Galley, Hudson, New York
2008 Carrie Hadda Gallery, Hudson, New York
2007 Carrie Haddad Gallery, Hudson, New York
2005 Carrie Haddad Gallery, Hudson, New York
2003 John Stevenson Gallery, New York City
2000 Columbia University, New York City
2000 Morris-Healy Gallery, New York City
2000 Art and Culture Center, Hollywood, Florida
1997 The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh
1997 Feature Gallery, New York City
1997 Pat Hearn Gallery: “Emergency Art Fund Benefit Exhibition”, New York
1995 Artopia, New York City
1993 Franklin Furnace, New York City
1993 Lyrik Kabinet, Munich
1993 Grolier Club: “Fifty Great Artist’s Books of the Twentieth Century”, New York City
1993 Cleveland Art Institute, Cleveland
1992 Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Graphische Sammlungen, Munch
1991 Prix de “HOME”, Home for Contemporary Theatre and Art, New York City (Curated by Mark Beard)
1990 ICI Exhibition at Bess Cutler Gallery, New York City
1990 New York Public Library: “Eighty from the Eighties”, New York City
1990 The National Gallery: “The 1980s: Prints from the Joshua P. Smith Collection”, Washington, D.C.
1990 The Franklin Furnace: “Contemporary Illustrated Books: Word and Image”, New York City
1989 The Toledo Museum of Fine Art, Toledo, Ohio
1988 The Neuberger Museum, Purchase, New York
1988 The Boston Athenaeum, Boston
1988 The American Craft Museum, New York City
1986 The Harcus Gallery, Boston
1984 The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City
1984 The Harcus Gallery, Boston
1981 Alexander Carlson Gallery, New York City
1980 Utah Museum of Fine Art, Utah
2005-2007 Mural painting, friezes and bronze sculpture, Abercrombie & Fitch, New York, Los Angeles, London
2004 Bronze door, Safra Synagogue, New York City
1996 Children’s Opera House, Foyer, Opera House, Cologne
1995 Painted murals, Foyer, Opera House, Cologne
1993 Designed and painted new 75-seat theater: West-End / State Theater, Kölnershauspiel, Cologne
1991 Mural Commission: The public spaces of das Schauspielhaus, Vienna
1984 “Windows on White”, New York
1983 “The Parallel Window”, New York
Albertina, Vienna. The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
The Boston Museum of Fine Art, Boston.
The Boston Athenaeum, Boston.
The Beinecke Library, Yale University.
The Humanities Research Center, Texas.
The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
The Utah Museum of Fine Art, Utah.
Harvard University, Cambridge.
Yale University, New Haven.
University of Missouri at Kansas City.
The New York Public Library, New York.
Princeton University, Princeton.
The Chase Manhattan Bank, New York.
Toledo Museum of Fine Art, Toledo.
Graphische Sammlung, Munich.
Zimmerli Art Museum, New Jersey.
Wolfson Collection, Miami.
National Academy of Arts and Letters, New York.
2003 Manhattan Fifteen Year Reader, text by Mark Beard. 51 reduction linoleum cuts, collaged and hand-colored.
1998/1938 Fifteen Corporeal Poems, poetry by alter-ego Bruce Sargeant. Etchings and chine-collé by alter-ego Bruce Sargeant.
1992 Aiden, text by Aiden Brady and Mark Beard. Etching and Polaroid transfers by Mark Beard.
1992 Nineteen Famous People, Twenty-two Friends, and Six Nudes, text by Mark Beard. Polaroid transfers by Mark Beard.
The above published with Freard Press, New York.
1993 The Seven Deadly Sins, text by Bertolt Brecht and music by Kurt Weill. Etchings and lithographs by Mark Beard.
1988 Pleasure and Pain by Mark Beard. Linoleum cuts and hand painted bindings by the artist.
1987 Utah Reader by Mark Beard. Collaged linocut with hand coloring by the artist
1986 Moses and the Shepherd by Rumi. Translated by Zhore Partovi with etchings by Mark Beard.
1985 Neo Classik Comix by Mark Beard. Etchings with selectively wiped monoprinting by the artist.
1985 The Cote d’Azur Triangle by Harry Kondolean with etchings and litographs by Mark Beard.
1984 Manhattan Third Year Reader by Mark Beard. Collaged linocuts with hand coloring by the artist.
1983 The Death of Venus by Edith Sitwell with lithographs by Mark Beard.
The above published with Vincent FitzGerald and Company, New York.
1986-1997 Designed over twenty theatrical sets in New York, London, Cologne, Vienna, and Frankfurt
1993 Nomination for Drama Desk Award for set design
1991 Village Voice Obie Award for sustained excellence in set design