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Fred Becker papers, 1913-2004, bulk 1940-2000

Biographical Note

Fred Becker (1913-2004) was a printmaker and art educator in Amherst, Massachusetts. Becker was born in 1913 in Oakland, California. He attended New York University beginning in 1933, where he enrolled in architecture coursework before focusing on printmaking and drawing. Becker was employed by the Works Progress Administration from 1935 to 1939. His early work of this period often incorporated nightclub scenes depicting jazz musicians. In 1940, Becker was one of the first students to enroll in classes at the New York iteration of Atelier 17, led by printmaker Stanley William Hayter. There Becker engaged with more abstract forms in his art-making, and arrived at an expressionist style by the 1950s. He served in the China Division of the United States Office of War Information (OWI) from 1945 to 1946.
Becker taught at the Tayler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, from 1946 to 1948; at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, from 1948 to 1968; and at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst from 1968 until his retirement in 1986. University of Massachusetts, Amherst's Herter Gallery was the site of his retrospective in 1999. Becker and his wife, painter Jean Morrison (1917-1995), had two children Carla and Anton. Fred Becker exhibited widely in print annuals and solo shows, as well as in the context of his participation in the Works Progress Administration and Atelier 17, New York. His prints are represented in a number of museum collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.