Charles Beck Biography

Charles Beck




Master printmaker Charles Beck was born and raised in Fergus Falls, MN and he returned there to establish himself as an artist after completing military service and graduate school in the 1950s. As the predominant theme of his work is landscape, the artist has expressed that he feels fortunate to live so close to the inspirational woods, fields and farmlands of the region. “Just about anything I’ve done of significance is somehow related to the nature and the land around here,” he states.

Although nature is his subject, Charles does not try to merely replicate what he sees. His work is characterized by both a sense of majesty and an appreciation of intricacy, whether he is depicting a far horizon or a single blossom. Patterning typifies his compositions, which tend to impart a sense that “all is well.”

A graduate of Concordia College, Charles took advantage of the G.I. Bill to study art at the University of Iowa. Upon his return home, he went to work as a sign-painter in an old harness shop where there was plenty of room to hang his fine art canvases as well. For a time, he traveled back and forth to the Twin Cities for post-graduate study at the University of Minnesota. There he worked with Cameron Booth, Walter Quirt and Malcolm Myers – and began to experiment with woodcuts, the focus of his work ever since.

Today, in his mid-80s, the artist is still at work, regularly heading out in his pickup to make small paintings on site. Beck Woodcuts, major retrospective of his prints, was assembled in 2000 by the Rourke Art Gallery Museum at Moorhead, MN and the artist was profiled for public television in the recent short film Seeing Beck.

Charles has conducted his career with a sense of independence. He was cautious in school, mindful that he did not absorb the style of other artists, and he preached the same to students he has had over the years: “A lot of times people try to be different. The only time you are really different is by being yourself. It’s got to be part of yourself and how you see and how you interpret what you see.”

Jerome Lamb, editor of the catalog for Beck Woodcuts, characterized him well as “that rarest of middle American hometown creatures, a capital A Artist, alive and unashamed.”

Source: The Grand Hand Gallery,