FRIDAY FIELD TRIP: Peter Beard Retrospective
A retrospective of Peter Beard's artwork now on view at Guild Hall in East Hampton shines a light on Beard's glamorous existence both in Montauk and Africa. Celebrity seekers and local history buffs will not be disappointed.
More than half of the retrospective focuses on Beard's life in Montauk. A major theme of this artwork is Beard's devotion to his daughter Zara. Pictures of Zara are surrounded by imagery of the beautiful nature found on the East End. In collage after collage, Beard composed all of these momentos in an adoring (and highly artistic) scrapbook manner. Studying them made me wish I had thought to create similar odes to my own sons. I still might!
In addition to the sentimental tributes to Zara, are plenty of snapshots of Andy Warhol, Jackie Onassis, Lee Radziwill, Mick and Bianca Jagger and numerous other models and beautiful people. This illustrious crowd had a ball in Montauk back in the day. We see them at the lighthouse, on the beach, watching home movies and water skiing on Lake Montauk. EEK--to think I could have watched their antics on Lake Montauk, from my lakefront backyard!
Bits of nostalgic advertisements and other Montauk memorabilia also bring a smile.
These works provide a fascinating glimpse into another era.
A separate gallery houses examples of Beard's work in Kenya. Most of these collages are large and majestic. While I had seen reproductions of Beard's Africa artwork in coffee table books, I was not prepared for its impact in person. There are many pictures of stunning wildlife like this collage of a beautiful elephant herd ringed with Beard's drawings of African life. One collage is centered on Beard's body inside of a crocodile. It was not surprising to learn that in 1996, this adventure seeker was mauled by an elephant and almost died.
The Guild Hall retrospective is open until July 31. It's free and well worth a visit if you find yourself in East Hampton. I left the show deep in thought recalling my one visit to Beard's Montauk property and very regretful that I did not know his work well at the time.
Photo credits: Zara and the Universe, and Ode to Yves Klein from Artnet. All other photos of Peter Beard's art and photography shot by Lynn Byrne at the retrospective.