Bill Beckley and Narrative Art: The Word-Image Riddle and the Aesthetics of Beauty
Text by David Carrier and Andrea Viliani
This book traces the evolution of Bill Beckley’s work through a selection of over 100 works, with critical texts and a conversation with the artist.
Bill Beckley is an American conceptual artist and one of the first artists to use photography as a means of artistic expression. In the early 1970s he was part of a loose-knit group of conceptual artists that used images and fictional texts in a form that came to be known as Narrative Art. “I was basically writing a story and taking pictures at the same time. The text evolved with the photos,” he says.
In the 1980s he experimented with various materials and his work became more sculptural and pictorial. By the end of the decade, he had found a way to integrate these materials with photography, and this integration became a very important aspect of all his works. In 2019 he produced the Neapolitan Holidays series, inspired by cards dated between 1915 and 1972, sent to or from Naples, Italy. The artist responded to the text on the postcard with an email or a text message—an old postcard receiving a response, sometimes even after a hundred years.
About The Author
David Carrier is a former professor of philosophy at Carnegie Mellon University, and Champney Family Professor at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art in Ohio. Andrea Viliani is an art historian and curator and director of the Museum of Civilizations in Rome. He was formerly the head and curator of the Castello di Rivoli Research Institute.