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Bruce Sargeant and His Circle: Figure and Form

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Painter Mark Beard is a master of fiction. Working in the 1920s style of his imaginary gay great-uncle Bruce Sargeant, Beard creates images of athletes in various stages of dress and undress. This archly homoerotic, exquisitely rendered body of work is rounded out with paintings by Bruce's circle of friends and associates: his Classicist teacher, Modernist lesbian best fri Painter Mark Beard is a master of fiction. Working in the 1920s style of his imaginary gay great-uncle Bruce Sargeant, Beard creates images of athletes in various stages of dress and undress. This archly homoerotic, exquisitely rendered body of work is rounded out with paintings by Bruce's circle of friends and associates: his Classicist teacher, Modernist lesbian best friend, and Abstract Expressionist art-school rival. Critical essays, remembrances from New York society members, and other ephemera from this lively quartet of fictional characters create an enticing journey into history, literature, and art.


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Painter Mark Beard is a master of fiction. Working in the 1920s style of his imaginary gay great-uncle Bruce Sargeant, Beard creates images of athletes in various stages of dress and undress. This archly homoerotic, exquisitely rendered body of work is rounded out with paintings by Bruce's circle of friends and associates: his Classicist teacher, Modernist lesbian best fri Painter Mark Beard is a master of fiction. Working in the 1920s style of his imaginary gay great-uncle Bruce Sargeant, Beard creates images of athletes in various stages of dress and undress. This archly homoerotic, exquisitely rendered body of work is rounded out with paintings by Bruce's circle of friends and associates: his Classicist teacher, Modernist lesbian best friend, and Abstract Expressionist art-school rival. Critical essays, remembrances from New York society members, and other ephemera from this lively quartet of fictional characters create an enticing journey into history, literature, and art.

34 review for Bruce Sargeant and His Circle: Figure and Form

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Artist Mark Beard has produced an art book that is also a work of fiction and a delightful parody of contemporary art hagiography. Ostensibly, the book documents the life and work of an English artist named Bruce Sargeant, as well as works by his circle of teachers and acquaintances. Beard claims that these works fell into his possession through an inheritance from his mother, and his job is to document the work of this talented but little known artist. The text and images, however, are all the Artist Mark Beard has produced an art book that is also a work of fiction and a delightful parody of contemporary art hagiography. Ostensibly, the book documents the life and work of an English artist named Bruce Sargeant, as well as works by his circle of teachers and acquaintances. Beard claims that these works fell into his possession through an inheritance from his mother, and his job is to document the work of this talented but little known artist. The text and images, however, are all the work of Beard. It’s delicious and funny and very clever. The Sargeant/Beard paintings are lovely and sexy, and the conceptual, historical frame Beard places around them just increases their charm.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    One of my favorite artists.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Grady

    Inhabiting Personas: Art History From the Mind and Brush on One Man Mark Beard has developed a strong following of admirers, collectors, and museum placements and all of this success has been through his very astutely devised concept of channeling his talent through the fictional artists under whose name he creates. Perhaps at one point Beard wished to keep his secret of the identity of Bruce Sargeant, an artist from his genealogy whose dates are 1898 - 1938, but the beautifully executed painting Inhabiting Personas: Art History From the Mind and Brush on One Man Mark Beard has developed a strong following of admirers, collectors, and museum placements and all of this success has been through his very astutely devised concept of channeling his talent through the fictional artists under whose name he creates. Perhaps at one point Beard wished to keep his secret of the identity of Bruce Sargeant, an artist from his genealogy whose dates are 1898 - 1938, but the beautifully executed paintings Beard attributes to his ancestor bloomed form his studio into public recognition and now are among the collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Atheneum; the Whitney, Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Princeton, Harvard, and Yale Universities; Graphische Sammlung, Munich and others. The paintings are of young healthy athletes in all manner of sport and "Sargeant's" technique has a raw, at times semi-finished brushwork look that makes them feel very spontaneous and very incidentally sensuous. The paintings are creating a 'posed' look, not unlike the very popular 1920-1940 images of men as created for magazine ads: these men are bathed in light that accentuates their muscular forms and their highly masculine presentation. The technique of this extremely interesting and well-conceived and designed art book is one that would invite the reader into Mark Beard's imaginary world. A thorough history of Bruce Sargeant is given in photographs, magazine articles and even letters to his friend regarding his passion for his lover Yip. By the time the viewer reaches the plates of Sargeant's paintings the imaginary world Beard has created is wholly credible. And as if Beard's channeling through the imaginary Sargeant weren't enough, he also creates Bruce Sargeant's 'Circle of Friends' - his teacher, the flamboyant Hippolyte Alexandre Michallon (many will appreciate the names selected for this imaginary character!) who taught Sergeant in the tradition of the École des Beaux-Arts and whose paintings are also included here (proving that Beard can paint far more tightly than his Sergeant paintings); his friend Edith Thayer Cromwell whose minor paintings cling to the Modernist school; Brechtholdt Steeruwitz who painted in the German Expressionist manner, separating himself from the Beaux Art style he learned with Sargeant; and finally a contemporary Peter Coulter who was influenced by all of this circle and brought about paintings that are far more political and angry and infused with an African American imagery. In one portion of the book there are pictures of each of these artists, and it is here that the 'truth' of the varying identities of these five artists is apparent: Mark Beard assumes the costumed identity of Sargeant, Michallon, Cromwell, Steeruwitz and Coulter - unveiling his various identities much the way an analyst would uncover the dissociative identities of a confused patient. Some readers may question the impetus for this fascinating collection of works by one excellent contemporary artist as a ploy for marketing attention. But there is no denying the beauty of these paintings or the skill and craftsmanship of the painter. Mark Beard has found a way to explore the influences on figurative painting - figure and form - and the journey he is taking simply adds more excitement and depth to his work. This book is remarkable on many levels and for those who have yet to discover the artistry of Mark Beard, this is a magnificent way to appreciate his talent. Grady Harp

  4. 5 out of 5

    Robert Starner

    Bruce Sargeant and His Circle is one of the most beautiful art books that I have come across. It is a elegant volume, kudos to publisher Chronicle Books for their bold presentation and to author/curator Mark Beard for presenting a marvelous collection of this little known artist of incredible skills in presenting the beauty of the male athlete. The plates of Sargeant’s art present the English male athlete of the early 1900s bringing to mind Forster’s Maurice. The men are presented in muted color Bruce Sargeant and His Circle is one of the most beautiful art books that I have come across. It is a elegant volume, kudos to publisher Chronicle Books for their bold presentation and to author/curator Mark Beard for presenting a marvelous collection of this little known artist of incredible skills in presenting the beauty of the male athlete. The plates of Sargeant’s art present the English male athlete of the early 1900s bringing to mind Forster’s Maurice. The men are presented in muted colors, pale skins tones with pink flushed cheeks and exquisite detailing of lean musculature and handsome visages. Other members of Sargeant’s “circle” presented here include Hippolyte Alexandre Michallon, Edith Thayer Cromwell, and Brechtholdt Streeruwitz, peers and teachers and mentors that shaped and influenced Sargeant’s artistic skills. Also, works of Peter Coulter, an artist greatly influenced by Streeruwitz and student of Cromwell, make an intriguing addition to this volume. Sadly the artistic career of Bruce Sargeant was cut short by a tragic wrestling accident at age 40. This volume is a tremendous tribute and presentation of the work of an immensely gifted artist and his remarkable ability to capture the sexuality and sensuality of the male athlete. Well worth its weight in gold. You will find yourself drawn over and over to the beautiful images in this collection.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Josh Porter

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Leach

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Davault

  8. 5 out of 5

    Theodore

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nicolas W

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nick Mat

  11. 5 out of 5

    Charles

  12. 5 out of 5

    Charlie David

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dennis

  14. 5 out of 5

    Danny

  15. 4 out of 5

    Steven Kinzler

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lin Yucheng

  17. 5 out of 5

    John

  18. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

  19. 4 out of 5

    John

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

  21. 4 out of 5

    Randy

  22. 5 out of 5

    Allan

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dick B

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Holloway

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

  26. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

  27. 5 out of 5

    Karl C

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nad

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jere

  30. 4 out of 5

    Wesley McCraw

  31. 5 out of 5

    Roberto

  32. 4 out of 5

    Judah

  33. 4 out of 5

    Mac

  34. 4 out of 5

    Aidan

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