Arthur Becker earned a degree in ceramics and photography from Bennington College in 1972. After a year in a yoga retreat, Becker lived in Vermont built a construction company that dismantled abandoned 18th century houses and reconstructing them in new locations. The study of the architectural details of these early and unseen houses, reflected the diverse Dutch, French, and English influences of the 18th century in New England and set a precedent for a fascination with the origin and creation of things that we take for granted in our daily lives.
From the traditions of John Chamberlain, to Pop Art and curiosity cabinets, Becker’s recent work focuses on cultural materialism as refelected in our relationship to money. He questions the objects that we value, cherish and thereby “collect” into our lives, confronting delicate but hard felt notions of value and its broader implications of our attachment to safety, security and class.
Becker’s journey has led him through a circuitous route. Like many artists, he left the art world to do something else. In this case it drove him to a year of meditation and ritual at a monastery in Hawaii, followed by business school, managing a tech company, and finally a return to making art full time in the 1990s.
Looking at how abstract designs like flags and logos infiltrate the struggle for deeper meaning in our lives, Becker explores the desperate nature of our personal connection to de-risking the uncertainty of the unknown by imparting values on objects that we hold close almost the golden calf and worship of idols.
While perhaps clichéd, this long, winding process seeded the ideas that have continued to inform his art in ever more complex ways. Initially using quotidian depictions of material goods and family holiday pictures, the artist printed images that are then wadded up and crushed into topographical forms, repurposing what was flat into unexpected collages of photographic cubism that still maintain the history of the image while giving their meaning new shape and form, literally. As then, and now, the artist seems to ask, “What level of meaning does materialism transform and replace? And what is the reality of what we see and take for granted?