Richard McBee, born in New York City, studied painting at the Art Students League of New York. His subject matter has been drawn from the Bible and Jewish history since 1976. Since 2008, he has focused on the pivotal role of women in Biblical narratives.
The ‘Biblical Artists’ (Bradford, McBee, Siani, Silberman) mounted numerous exhibitions in the late 1970’s and 1980’s. In 1996, he exhibited 24 major paintings on “Abraham & Isaac,” and he has since completed over 100 paintings on that seminal subject. In 2008, he created “Sarah’s Trials,” a series of 16 large paintings on the life of the biblical matriarch, followed by a parallel series, “Hagar the Stranger” in 2012.
McBee was program director of the Alliance of Figurative Artists in the 1980’s and in 1991, was one of the founding members of the American Guild of Judaic Art. In 2008, he cofounded the Jewish Art Salon to promote contemporary Jewish Art through exhibitions and lectures.
He reviewed the Jewish Arts scene from 2000 to 2014 in The Jewish Press and has written for the Forward, the Jewish Week, Jewish Ideas Daily, and Mosaic magazine. He is a member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) and the Association for Jewish Studies. Leading scholars of Jewish Art, including Matthew Baigell and Ori Z. Soltes, have discussed his artwork extensively. McBee continues to write, exhibit, lecture, and curate exhibitions on Jewish Art. His artwork is in many private collections throughout the country. This site exhibits more than 300 of his artworks and 225 of his Jewish Art essays.
INTRODUCTION TO MCBEE’S WEBSITE
FAITH and DOUBT, PASSION, DEFEAT and TRIUMPH: The Biblical narrative of the Jewish People is the rich foundation for my paintings over the last 45 years.
My methodology embraces our vast textual traditions by reading against the grain to create new meanings such as contemplating God’s relationship with his chosen people; the marital relationships of the Matriarchs and Patriarchs and the role that female sexuality plays in the narratives leading to the Davidic kingdom.
Additionally posted here is an unparalleled encyclopedia of hundreds of Jewish Art essays that explore the vitality of contemporary Jewish Art and the long history of Jewish visual culture reaching back 1,800 years. For an introduction to contemporary Jewish art and its challenges, click on this article from the journal Milin Havivin (Vol. 7, 2013-14), published by Yeshivat Chovevei Torah.