Mixed media construction 84 x 40 x 22 in. (213.4 x 101.6 x 55.9 cm)
Gift of Ken and Judy Siebel and museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment
Smithsonian American Art Museum, 3rd Floor, Luce Foundation Center
Movie Palace is an elaborate kinetic sculpture that combines Hollywood escapism with the innocent pleasures of windup toys. Beck remembers movie-going as a social experience that is disappearing from American culture today. Crafting this lost world in miniature creates the kind of magic that films once had, when they transported audiences to distant lands and improbable adventures. The building combines the Renaissance, Moorish, and Egyptian styles that movie houses shamelessly borrowed in the good old days. Reliefs on the outside of the dome represent film noir, Westerns, musicals and other genres from Hollywood’s golden age. Inside, animated figures talk and eat popcorn while King Kong swats at biplanes from the mast of the Empire State Building. The fantasy world of film may no longer be what it was, but Beck’s Movie Palace reminds us of the pleasures of pretending.