Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mark Beard

The mural of artist Mark Beard is the centerpiece of the interior of the Abercrombie and Fitch Flagship Store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. At left is a  portion of the artwork on the wall and ceiling of the popular store.

Using an alter-ego (assumed name) of Bruce Sargeant, Beard's works, such as large paintings, friezes and bronze sculptures, are featured in Abercrombie & Fitch's flagship stores in New York, Los Angeles, London, Milan, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Tokyo. The 2008 commission for the Tokyo Abercrombie & Fitch store is his largest to date – an eleven story tall mural.

Much of Beard's artwork is decidedly homoerotic. Here's a painting titled "Three Handstands".

Mr. Beard is a New York City based American artist who was born in 1956 in Salt Lake City. His great-grandfather was an early Mormon pioneer who emigrated from England to Utah. Beard’s works are in many museum collections, including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, the Whitney, Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. the Graphische Sammlung in Munich and Princeton, Harvard, and Yale Universities. More than 200 private collections (such as that of Ralph Lauren) include his artworks.

Mark’s studio (above) is littered with oil paintings, life drawings, heroic bronzes, ceramics, and architectural maquettes, illustrating that he is a virtuoso in many mediums. A noted set designer, he also has paintings, prints, sculptures and handcrafted books in collections all over the world.

Curiously, Beard channeled himself into several alter egos, each with a completely fabricated bio. He says this enables him to work within several distinct styles. Bear with me. First was the persona of “Bruce Sargeant” (1898-1938), a spoof on John Singer Sargent. “Bruce Sargeant” is an imagined English artist, a contemporary of E. M. Forster, Rupert Brooke and John Sloan, who purportedly died in a tragic wrestling accident. I kid you not. Mark then created Bruce Sargeant’s teacher, “Hippolyte-Alexandre Michallon”, a 19th-century French Academist. Michallon also taught “Edith Thayer Cromwell”, an American post-modern avant-gardeist. Next up were “Brechtolt Steeruwitz”, a Viennese Expressionist of complex personality, and “Peter Coulter” (b. 1948), a NYC based artist purportedly influenced by Cromwell and Steeruwitz. So Mark Beard is more than one artist – he is at least six. Beard made a mockumentary in which he played five of his alter egos, with critics discussing each artist’s work. I’m not making this up.

Mark Beard painting as Bruce Sargeant: Two Boys Seated on a Bench (below)

Mr. Beard is represented by ClampArt in New York City, where he resides in a 3,700 sq. ft. studio in Hell's Kitchen on West 38th St. that he bought with his partner, James Manfred. Mark Beard outside his NYC studio (below):

I'm afraid I've overemphasized Mark's paintings. He has designed sculptures (above) and the 18-foot tall doors of the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue (below) on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The bronze doors bear a tree of life design, a representation of the process by which the universe came into being.

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