Robert Beckmann was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. After graduating from the College of Wooster, he took M.A. and M.F.A. degrees from the University of Iowa, Iowa City. Later, Beckmann left teaching at Northern Illinois University after four years to pursue a career as a professional artist. Over 200 of his murals exist throughout the country, and his paintings are in many public and private collections.
Beckmann is a winner of a number of fellowships from the Nevada State Arts Council and the Western States Arts Foundation. A past vice chair of the Las Vegas Arts Commission, he received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts from the State of Nevada in 1996. He was selected as the publisher’s pick for Best Artist in the Las Vegas Review Journal’s 1999 The Best of Las Vegas.
Beckmann is best known for his large-scale paintings in an exhibition entitled The Body of a House, which has toured to 20 museums in the United States and St. Petersburg, Russia, and is permanently housed in the Nevada Museum of Art. In this series of eight large-scale canvases, Beckmann reveals the rapid disassembly of a house by a nuclear explosion on the Nevada Test Site. Beckmann is also noted for a series of murals which hang in the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. He is profiled in numerous publications, including William L. Fox’s book, Mapping the Empty: Eight Artists and Nevada.