Michael Goldberg is classified as a second generation Abstract Expressionist painter. However, his body of work flies in the face of such a neat categorization. Throughout his extensive and prolific career Goldberg's style of painting reflected a number of changes. He developed strong relationships with several first generation Abstract Expressionist artists such as Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Milton Resnick, Clyfford Still, and Jackson Pollock, all of whom influenced his work to one degree or another. Over the course of his career Goldberg produced works that were dynamic, gestural canvases; monochromatic, minimalist works; grids; calligraphic images; patterned or striped paintings and even collages. All of these works reveal the hand of an artist with strong convictions.
During the course of his lengthy and varied career Goldberg exhibited his works constantly. In 1951 assuming the alias Michael Stuart he showed his works at the storied and iconic Ninth Street Show which would prove to be the first trailblazing exhibition of Abstract Expressionist works. In 1952 he joined the artists' Club on Eighth Street in New York City where his contemporaries met to exchange revolutionary artistic ideas. During this time he made the acquaintance of the poet Frank O'Hara with whom he forged a lifelong friendship and with whom he collaborated in 1960 on a project entitled Odes. Goldberg's first solo show was in 1953 at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery which is credited with the discovery of many Abstract Expressionist artists along with the representation of such well-known contemporary artists as Grace Hartigan, Alfred Leslie, Helen Frankenthaler, Jane Freilicher, Paul Georges, Red Grooms, Ian Hornak, Kenneth Noland, Fairfield Porter, and Larry Rivers. By 2003 Goldberg would boast a total of 99 solo shows, including those at the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York; Galerie Biedermann in Munich, Germany; Manny Silverman Gallery Los Angeles, California; the Provincetown Art Association in Provincetown, Massachusetts; and Galleria Peccolo in Livorno, Italy. In 1953 Goldberg was regarded as a "regular" at the Cedar Bar, a known gathering point for avant-garde artists. In 1955 he occupied a studio next to those of de Kooning and Resnick. Goldberg never left the New York City avant-garde artistic scene for long. He did hold brief visiting teaching art positions at the University of California, Berkeley (1961) and at the University of Minnesota (1967). He also taught at the School of Visual Arts in New York City beginning in 1979. In 1962 he made a final move to Mark Rothko's studio located at 222 Bowery Street which he occupied until 2007 and where he died.
Southampton Bypass II, 1966-1967 showcases the big bold almost calligraphic strokes that bear witness to the influence of both de Kooning and Kline on the work of Goldberg. There is an architectural solidity to the canvas and yet the work is still explosive with a ferocity and intensiveness to it. Colorful inserts that appear almost like injected collages bring a lyrical playfulness to this mural size work. These two opposing forces create an energy and pose a conflict within the painting. The tug of such an emotional roller coaster is typical of Goldberg's works from the 1960's. These tormented and conflicted pictures create drama that still continues to resonate with astute collectors today.
Martha Jackson Gallery, New York
Andy Williams, New York