Beardsley, John 1952-

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BEARDSLEY, John 1952-

PERSONAL: Born October 28, 1952, in New York, NY. Education: Harvard University, A.B. (magna cum laude), 1974; University of Virginia, M.A., 1985, Ph. D., 1994. Attended School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, 1972–73; and Arts Student League, New York City, 1973.

ADDRESSES: Office—Harvard Design School, 48 Quincy St., Cambridge, MA 02138.

CAREER: Writer and curator. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, Helena Rubinstein fellow, 1973–74; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC, member of curatorial staff, 1974–78; freelance art critic, 1978–80; freelance curator, 1978–; National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, DC, consultant to the visual arts program, 1980–81; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, adjunct curator, 1981–89; Hull College of Higher Education, North Humberside, England, teacher in critical and theoretical studies, 1982; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, teacher in the department of landscape architecture and regional planning, 1989–92; University of Virginia, Charlottesville, teacher in school of architecture, 1985–96; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, senior lecturer in department of landscape architecture, 1998–. Has worked as curator or co-curator of numerous exhibits, including Landscape as Metaphor, Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO, 1993–94; 100 Years of Landscape Architecture: Imagining Futures, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA, 2000; and Quilts of Gee's Bend, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, 2002; lecturer at museums, universities, and art schools.

AWARDS, HONORS: Art Critic's fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts, 1979–80, 1984–85; Graham Foundation for Advanced Study in the Fine Arts fellowship, 1992; John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship, 1996–97.



Probing the Earth: Contemporary Land Projects, Smithsonian Institution Press (Washington, DC), 1977.

Art in Public Places: A Survey of Projects Supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Partners for Livable Places (Washington, DC), 1981.

(With Jane Livingston) Black Folk Art in America: 1930–1980 (museum catalogue), Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington, DC), 1982.

Modern Painters at the Corcoran: Sam Gilliam, Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington, DC), 1983.

Earthworks and Beyond: Contemporary Art in the Landscape, Abbeville Press (New York, NY), 1984, third edition, 1998.

A Landscape for Modern Sculpture: The Storm King Art Center, photographs by David Finn, introduction by H. Peter Stern, foreword by J. Carter Brown, Abbeville Press (New York, NY), 1985, second edition, Abbeville Press (New York, NY), 1996.

(With Jane Livingston and Octavio Paz) Hispanic Art in the United States: Thirty Contemporary Painters and Sculptors, Abbeville Press (New York, NY), 1987.

Pablo Picasso (biography), Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 1991.

Elyn Zimmerman (exhibition catalog), Contemporary Art Museum, University of South Florida (Tampa, FL), 1991.

Spirits: Selections from the Collection of Geoffrey Holder and Carmen de Lavallade, Katonah Museum of Art (Katonah, NY), 1991.

(With Martin Friedman, and others) Visions of America: Landscape as Metaphor in the Late Twentieth Century, Denver Art Museum (Denver, CA), 1994.

Gardens of Revelation: Environments by Visionary Artists, photography by James Pierce, Abbeville Press (New York, NY), 1995.

The Reconstructed Figure, Katonah Museum of Art (Katonah, NY), 1995.

(With Jo Farb Hernandez and Roger Cardinal) A. G. Rizzoli: Architect of Magnificent Visions (exhibition catalog), Harry N. Abrams (New York), 1997.

(With Roberta Kefalos and Theodore Rosengarten) Art and Landscape in Charleston and the Low Country: A Project of Spoleto Festival U.S.A., Spacemaker Press (Washington, DC), 1998.

Mario Schjetnan: Ten Landscapes, Rockport Publishers (Gloucester, MA), 2002.

(With William Arnett, Paul Arnett, and Jane Livingston) The Quilts of Gee's Bend, introduction by Alvia J. Wardlaw, Tinwood Books (Atlanta, GA), 2002.

(With William Arnett, Paul Arnett, Jane Livingston, and Alvia J. Wardlaw) Gee's Bend: The Women and Their Quilts, Tinwood Books (Atlanta, GA), 2002.

Contributor to books, including (with Jane Livingston) Exhibiting Cultures, edited by Ivan Karp and Steven D. Lavine, Smithsonian Institution Press (Washington, DC), 1991; Denatured Visions: Landscape and Culture in the Twentieth Century, edited by Stuart Wrede and William Howard Adams, The Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY), 1991; Différentes Natures, Etablissement Public pour l'Aménagement de la Region de la Défense (Paris, France), 1993; American Art in the Twentieth Century, edited by Christos M. Joachimides and Norman Rosenthal, Prestel-Verlag (Munich, Germany), 1993; and Manuel Neri: Early Work, 1953–1978, Hudson Hills Press (New York, NY), 1996.

SIDELIGHTS: As an experienced curator who often works with folk and outsider art, John Beardsley primarily contributes to the catalogs that accompany significant exhibitions. In a review of Black Folk Art in America: 1930–1980 published in the Village Voice Literary Supplement, critic Jeff Weinstein noted that museum catalogues are becoming a valuable source of art information, offering "reproductions and art criticism unavailable elsewhere." Weinstein continued, "Such is the case with Black Folk Art in America." Weinstein also observed that while it is "at first merely a gorgeous selection of works by a few familiar and many just discovered artists, it becomes, as the text unfolds the pictures, a messenger bearing a new definition of contemporary folk art."

Beardsley found similar success with other books intended to accompany museum exhibits. In what a Library Journal reviewer called a "distinctive volume," Beardsley and his coauthors provide commentary in The Quilts of Gee's Bend. This book was produced in conjunction with the folk art exhibition of individualistic, visually striking quilts made by fortyfive African American women over four generations. The women lived in the secluded community of Gee's Bend, Alabama. Beardsley and others discuss the importance of the women and their quilts from an artistic as well as historic point of view.

Another significant exhibition catalog to which Beardsley contributed is A.G. Rizzoli: Architect of Magnificent Visions. Rizzoli was an outsider artist whose work was not truly discovered until several years after his death. Employed as an architectural draftsman, Rizzoli created art based on words and drawings of fantastic buildings, often inspired by people and employing unusual details. In A.G. Rizzoli, Beardsley contributes an essay that looks at how Rizzoli's visions fit into neoclassical architecture's history. The author also examines the relationship between his art and the artist's troubled family life. A critic in Publishers Weekly commented positively on the text in the catalog, noting that "perceptive essays offer a tantalizing introduction to Rizzoli's extraordinary visions."

In addition, Beardsley has published a biography of Pablo Picasso in a series intended for young readers. This book covers the artist's life from his early works to his later life.



Art Journal, winter, 1997, review of A.G. Rizzoli: Architect of Magnificent Visions, p. 93.

Booklist, December 15, 2002, review of The Quilts of Gee's Bend, p. 720.

Library Journal, January, 2003, review of The Quilts of Gee's Bend, pp. 98–99.

Publishers Weekly, March 24, 1997, review of A.G. Rizzoli, p. 66.

San Francisco Chronicle, June 8, 1997, Kenneth Baker, "The City that Rizzoli Never Built: San Francisco Eccentric Had Architectural Visions," review of A. G. Rizzoli, p. 10.

School Arts, March, 1992, Kent Anderson, review of Pablo Picasso, p. 50.

Village Voice Literary Supplement, May, 1982, Jeff Weinstein, review of Black Folk Art in America: 1930–1980.


Harvard Design School Web site, http://www.gsd.harvard/edu/ (August 22, 2005), biography of John Beardsley.