Julian Beck

(1925 - 1985)

Best known as the founder—in 1947, along with his wife, Judith Malina—of the itinerant, avant-garde performance ensemble known as The Living Theatre, Beck dropped out of Yale in 1943 at the age of 18 to paint and write in New York City. Alongside Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, William Baziotes, Willem de Kooning and other members of the New York Abstract Expressionist group, he exhibited at Peggy Guggenheim’s groundbreaking Art of This Century gallery in 1945 and at others—including Bernard-Ganymede and Tibor de Nagy—through 1958. The exhibition consisted largely of early “gestural” and “automatic” works on paper, as well as of several works on canvas. Prominently featured in this exhibition is a series of paintings with silkscreen overlay announcing The Living Theatre’s performances at the Cherry Lane Theatre in August, 1952 of Ubu The King (Ubu Roi) by Alfred Jarry and The Heroes by John Ashberry.


Paintings and Drawings, 1944-1958

To the student of poetry (we are all students of poetry) I say: when you sit down to write a poem, you must try to write something you have never heard before, or better yet something no one has ever heard. I say this too to the painter, the philosopher, to the musician—paint what you have never seen before, think what has never been thought, compose a sound never heard until now—to all those whose creativity keeps humanity from falling into the abyss. The Abyss in which banality buries us alive.

— Julian Beck

Inquiries welcome. Exhibition catalogue available.