Born in Aberdare, Wales in 1943, John Beard studied at the University of London and the Royal College of Art.
In 2005 Beard was awarded a major grant from the Pollock Krasner Foundation. In 2006 he won the Art Gallery of New South Wales Wynne Prize and the Kedumba Contemporary Drawing Award, was invited to participate in the Australian Drawing Biennale and made a Visiting Professorial Fellow at the College of Fine Art, University of New South Wales, Sydney. In 2007 he won the Art Gallery of New South Wales 2007 Archibald Prize for Portrait Painting in Australia.
In February 2010, was appointed a trustee of The Art Gallery of New South Wales, in Australia.
His work has been collected by major Australian and international public and private institutions including National and State Galleries across Australia, the Gulbenkian’s Centro de Arte Moderna in Lisbon, Bibliotheque Nationale de France in Paris and the Tate Gallery in London. Beard lives in Sydney and is represented by John Buckley Gallery, Melbourne, Liverpool Street Gallery, Sydney, and The Fine Art Society, London.