Paul Beem received his art education at the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis and then attended The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. After graduation, he went to live in Pasadena, California with a friend from the Chicago Art Institute. Beem refused a job at Walt Disney Studios, because he preferred to paint landscapes. He exhibited his work at the John Herron Exhibition of Indiana Artists and the Hoosier Salon and received awards for his still life painting. He was also the art director for the W. E. Long Company of Chicago and an orchestra conductor for the Indianapolis Civic Theater.
Beem’s still life demonstrates a high level of formal inventiveness within the narrowly restricted subject matter of a few common objects. Painted just after Beem completed his studies at Herron, the still life’s meticulous design reflects the influence of his painting teachers William Forsyth and Clifton Wheeler. Virtually every line and shape has its echo elsewhere in the composition, tying the whole together in a subtly devised system of relationships. For example, the flowerpot’s oval-shaped rim is repeated in the distorted oval formed by the folds of the tablecloth, and the square pedestal on which the flowerpot rests repeats the overall shape of the square canvas.
Additional information on Paul Beem can be found in the files of the Indianapolis Museum of Art Stout Library.