Generally artists establish themselves with a style or a theme to their work, but Richard Becker sculpture focuses oncommissions and are anything but similar in style or theme. Becker just completed a bronze sculpture of the television character Homer Simpson, which is now permanently installed in the 20th Century Fox Studios lot in Los Angeles, and “Liberation”, a 15 ft. tall POW Veterans Monument for Miramar US National Cemetery in San Diego, CA. One has to ask oneself how the same artist can produce such diametrically opposed themes and style.
Richard sums it up by saying, “I enjoy creating all kinds of art – serious, strange, fun. And for the POW Monument, I did feel a very deep sense of obligation to help these veterans convey their story and their service and to honor them. The Simpsons' Homer, while it was goofy, crazy fun and Hollywood, and all that, I too, really felt an obligation to make this tribute special for the creators, crew and fans that have made such an amazing family and impact on culture. “
Los Angeles native Richard Becker found his love of sculpture while living in Spain. He has studied at the Escola d’Art Barcelona, the Los Angeles Art Academy, Vaugel Studios and the Scottsdale Artists’ School. He is an elected member of the San Diego Museum of Art Artists Guild, has received the Edward Fenno-Hoffman Prize for uplifting works, and in 2010 was elected into the National Sculpture Society.
Asked how he came about creating the sculpture for Homer, he said, “Hmm… the Homer thing came from doing the portrait bronze of James L Brooks for the Emmys Hall of Fame. Jim is an incredibly accomplished writer and director with multiple Oscars, more Emmys than anyone, and he started the Simpsons by hiring Matt Groening. When we were discussing his portrait, I asked about including a little Homer on the high-relief plaque. He liked the idea so I started sculpting a little Homer for the background. Long story short, I decided to do a full size head study of Homer to understand how he translates from flat to 3-dimensional. After the Emmy plaque was complete, I asked if anyone wanted a cast of the Homer head. This led to using it for the Simpsons 500th episode celebration.“
Asked about the POW monument; “Well, one of my artistic goals was to create a work that draws people in to better understand their story, the price paid and the debt owed to these veterans who served doubly — as both soldiers and as POWs. The vets provided me with their stories, photos, books and even movies like “The Great Escape.” Once we settled on the overall concept – depicting the liberation moment — I asked them to write what it felt like to go through that experience.
Was there a particularly difficult part in creating this piece? “I suppose the most difficult thing was emotionally, it was rough as I immersed myself in the research; the stories, the photos, trying to imagine what it would be like to be in that position, it was dark.”
Richard Becker’s work might range from cartoon to monumental, but one must admit he is an incredibly talented and diverse artist. He is primarily focused on commissioned work these days. He does create some smaller works in the studio, and says that someday he will cast a few of these, but right now he is keeping quite booked.