Fred Becker was born in Oakland, California in 1913 and raised in Hollywood where his father, Fred Becker, Sr., was an actor in silent films. Becker’s studied at the Otis Art Institute in 1931 where he was introduced to printmaking. In the fall of 1933, Becker relocated to New York, and registered at New York University in architectural studies and at the Beaux Arts Institute of Design on 44th Street.
Becker was part of the Graphic Arts Division of the WPA. He worked on the WPA between 1935 to the day he was “laid off” the project in the summer of 1939. An exhibition in 1937 at the Federal Art Project Gallery in New York included two of his prints, and the following year his work was exhibited at the Willard Gallery in New York.
Stanley Hayter opened the doors of his Atelier 17 workshop in New York in 1940. Becker signed up for classes and found there another free, informal and imaginative place to learn and work; however, with the entry of the US into World War II in 1941, Becker left the city, relocated to Long Island and found employment in the war industry until he was drafted into the military in 1945.
Returning from the war in 1946, Becker accepted a teaching position at Tyler School of Art, Temple University in Philadelphia. After two years, he moved to Saint Louis where he joined the faculty of Washington University and established their printmaking department.