Piazza Armerina I
Colour etching and aquatint1966
© Richard Beer
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About the work
Place: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, Whitehall
About the artist
Painter and printmaker, Richard Beer, was born in London and studied at the Slade School of Art from 1945 until 1950. The artists, Lucian Freud, Graham Sutherland and Keith Vaughan, taught him periodically at the Slade. During 1950–1951, Beer studied printmaking in Paris at Atelier 17, a leading print studio previously established by the British artist, Stanley William Hayter (1901–1988) who pioneered innovative printmaking techniques. Later in the 1950s, Beer designed stage and costume designs for ballet and opera productions. The impact of having to produce two-dimensional stage designs modelled to appear three-dimensional, is discernible in many of his works, including Ten Wren Churches where the buildings loom boldly almost like backdrops to a theatrical performance. Following in the tradition of earlier English artists such as Richard Wilson, John Ruskin and Edward Lear, Beer was a frequent traveller to France and Italy, and held several solo exhibitions based upon places he had visited. His love of architectural detail and the quality of Mediterranean light distinguished his work. In a 1974 exhibition review of his paintings of Italy at the Thackeray Gallery, London, James Burr, art critic of Apollo Magazine noted: 'He is most at home in Italy. The crumbling decay of Baroque facades, villages crowning hilltops, the intimacy of streets enclosed by peeling walls…hold a fascination for him'. Beer was one of the founder members of the Printmakers Council and his work is represented in public collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum and Tate in London; and the Bibliotèque Nationale in Paris.