Date of this Version
RESOURCE AND RESPONSE, Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, Volume 1 Number 2
This exhibition, the second in the Resource and Response Series, assembles approximately a score of works which span nearly four decades of Michael Goldberg's career as a painter. In so doing, this exhibition also reflects upon perhaps the most fabled chapter in the history of American art: the emergence of the New York School and, with it, the creation of an "independent, self-generating, and specifically American art.'" Here, as for all shows in this series, the intent is not to rival a full retrospective, but to develop a focused response to prominent issues and concerns in the world of contemporary art.
In speaking about his work, Goldberg remarked (with a level of pretension hovering around absolute zero), "I think of my art as being a little like a slinky toy. It expands and then gathers itself into the same shape."What this exhibition offers, is the opportunity to suggest some of the ways in which Goldberg's work, through all of its changes, remains an expansion and a gathering of the artist's original ideas. At the same time, this exhibition provides a chance to question the place in American art history which criticism, until very recently, had designated for Goldberg and other members of the "second generation" of Abstract Expressionists.
That place has been assigned largely, it would seem, because the lure and tradition of the New, by the middle Fifties, was altogether compelling. As Robert Rosenblum recently admitted, "I was already aware that Rothko and Still, Pollock and de'Kooning were heavyweights and spoke for past achievement; but I couldn't wait to turn the page and find out what would happen next."Further, he writes," ... , for one, thought I could write off most of the work by [Norman Bluhm, Michael Goldberg, Grace Hartigan, AI Held, Alfred Leslie and Joan Mitchell] as irritating anachronisms, the product of loyal but growingly irrelevant satellites. I was anxious to sweep them under the carpet and get on with the evolution of art.'" In this context, it is important to note, if very eliptically, that the art of the first generation, of Rothko, Pollock, de Kooning, - and perhaps a dozen others - owed a great deal to tradition, and little of that American.