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 Charles Nelson Beck  (1923 - )

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Lived/Active: Minnesota      Known for: wood carving, wood cut-landscape, murals

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Ad Code: 4
Charles Nelson Beck
An example of work by Charles Nelson Beck
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Fine Arts Collection, Luther College:
Charles Nelson Beck was born January 31, 1923 in Fergus Falls, MN. His background is primarily Norwegian with family ties to Hedemark. He received his BA degree from Concordia College, Moorhead, MN, where he studied with Cyrus Running. His MFA degree was earned at the University of Iowa in 1950. In 1957, Beck studied at San Miguel Allende in Mexico. He also took art courses at the University of Minnesota. During the 1960’s, Beck began teaching at Fergus Falls Community College.

A history buff, Beck was heavily involved in developing the Otter Tail County Historical Museum in Fergus Falls where he created several dioramas. In 1978, Beck traveled to Madagascar with his family where he painted a number of watercolors. He received an honorary doctorate from Concordia College in 1979. Beck was married to Joyce Hagge in 1948 and they are the parents of three children.

An extensive catalog of an exhibit held in 1986 at the Plains Art Museum in Moorhead, MN, entitled C. Beck: Charles Beck Retrospective, 1942-1986, thoroughly chronicles his professional career. Beck’s paintings have been exhibited since 1948 when one of his paintings was selected for the “American Painting Today” exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Since that time, he has been involved in numerous one-person and group exhibits, concentrating on locales in the upper mid-west. A list of catalogs and brochures for these exhibits are included in the retrospective exhibit catalog mentioned above.

His numerous awards and prizes, as well as institutional locations for his works, are also listed in the catalog. He was commissioned to paint murals in several buildings as well.

Beck was recently represented in the exhibit “Paintings by Minnesotans of Norwegian Background, 1870-1970,” sponsored by the Minnesota Historical Society in 2000 in Minneapolis.

The two works by Beck in the Fine Arts Collection were acquired at different times. The oil on canvas, Ploughed Earth, was purchased from the artist in 1959 after it was shown at one of the Fine Arts Festivals sponsored by Luther College that same year. The colored woodcut, Spring, was acquired around 1970, possibly after an exhibit of Beck’s works was mounted at Luther College.

Ref: Beck, Charles N. Charles Beck Retrospective, 1942-1986. Moorhead, MN: Plains Art Museum, 1986; Nelson, Marion J. Paintings by Minnesotans of Norwegian Background, 1870-1970. [Northfield, MN]: Norwegian-American Historical Association, 2000.


Written and submitted by Jane Kemp
Professor; Circulation-Special Collections Librarian
Supervisor, Fine Arts Collection (http://finearts.luther.edu)
Luther College
Decorah, IA 52101

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