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Michael Goldberg Works

Michael Goldberg, Untitled, 2001, Oil on paper, 14” x 13”

Michael Goldberg was heavily involved in the New York avant-garde scene of the 1940s and ’50s, Michael Goldberg was a part of the first comprehensive Abstract Expressionism exhibition called the “Ninth Street Show” (1951). Over his long and varied career, Goldberg produced gestural, expressionistic canvases, monochromatic works, minimalist paintings, patterned compositions, collage, and mixed-media works. He is most recognized for his action paintings, with vigorous sweeping gestures inspired by improvisational jazz music, and his unorthodox use of studio objects to paint such as the paintbrush handle.

A veteran of World War II, Goldberg was one of the last few remaining survivors of the New York School;[2][3] he was sometimes referred to as a member of the so-called "second generation" of Abstract Expressionists, although he began exhibiting his action paintings in important group shows in galleries in New York City in the early 1950s. Goldberg began taking classes at the Art Students League of New York at age 14.[1] In the 1950s he studied painting with Hans Hofmann, and he discussed painting with Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, Mark Rothko and several others of the New York School[4] sometimes at The Eighth Street Club,[5] a regular meeting place of modern artists working in and around Tenth Street in New York[4][6] and sometimes at the Cedar Bar.[7] He began to exhibit his paintings in New York City during the early 1950s, and some of his abstract expressionist peers included artists like Joan Mitchell, Alfred Leslie, Grace Hartigan, Helen Frankenthaler, Knox Martin, Friedel Dzubas, Norman Bluhm, and Sam Francis among others.

Goldberg came into prominence in the late 1950s, early 1960s just as Color field painting, Hard-edge painting and Pop Art emerged onto centerstage. With the changing of fashions in the art world; his greatest accomplishments as a painter weren't sufficiently recognized; and as many of his generation his work was overlooked for many years. He was known in early 1950's for an affair with the poet and playwright Violet Ranny Lang and is celebrated in her play "Fire Exit," as told in Alison Lurie's memoir V.R. Lang, Poems & Plays, with a Memoir by Alison Lurie. Although by the 1970s and 1980s his work began to achieve recognition and appreciation and he enjoyed a long, successful and a celebrated career as an abstract painter. His work like others of the abstract expressionist generation expressed a painterly integration of Western metaphysics and Eastern philosophy. Throughout his long career and into his mature years, he continued to teach, paint, and exhibit his work. His classes at the School of Visual Arts were well attended by devoted students, and admirers. He lived with his wife and longtime companion, the painter Lynn Umlauf, who also teaches at the School of Visual Arts. He died in Manhattan of a heart attack. He is also survived by his brother, the writer Gerald Jay Goldberg.

Michael Goldberg, Untitled 21, Watercolor on paper, 16 1/2” x 19 1/2"

Michael Goldberg

Michael Goldberg

1924 - 2007

Seraphin Gallery, Philadelphia


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