Berry Campbell Gallery is pleased to announce a survey of works by John Goodyear. This exhibition will include early kinetic pieces from the 1960s to Goodyear’s most recent minimal and shaped canvases. This special exhibition is Berry Campbell Gallery’s second exhibition of John Goodyear and is the gallery’s fall season opener. The brochure essay is written by Goodyear’s colleague and fellow artist, Stephen Westfall. John Goodyear: Distillation and Wit will run from September 6 through October 6, 2018 with an opening reception on Thursday, September 6 from 6 to 8 pm.
The core of the exhibition is comprised of two groups of paintings from 2018. The paintings are small, but they blow up in scale in the mind. One group is comprised of 36 inch squares, pictorially complex abstractions that extrapolate and refine away from their sources in Johannes Vermeer: The Guitar Player (1672), Woman with a Pearl Necklace (1664), and Girl Interrupted at Her Music (c. 1658) among others. The figures and furniture in each of the Vermeer paintings are essentialized into abstract, geometry-inflected shapes that also bear a distinct resemblance to forms that comprise some of the still lifes of the Scuola Metafisica (the Italian painters that include Carlo Carra, Giorgio de Chirico, and early Giorgio Morandi). Goodyear’s geometricization of Vermeer’s figures and interior furnishings turns them into metaphysical instruments. But Goodyear is also interested in the pictorial energy that is created by Vermeer’s cropping, one that extends forms past the frame of the stretched canvas and resists the striking, almost counter-intuitive general repose of the Italian painters nearly three centuries later.
Goodyear was motivated by his Vermeer extrapolations to push further into “pure” abstraction in a subsequent group of six smaller canvases that intersect a solid color geometric form on a white field, with the geometric form also breaking the edge of the frame to hang fire out beyond the perimeter of the rectangle. Each canvas is named after the color of its own particular geometric shape: Red, On and Off (2018) for the painting with the red square, Yellow, On and Off (2018) for the yellow triangle, and so on. Are the forms entering or leaving the canvas? It’s not really important because in this compacted scale (20 x 20 inches, not including protrusions) the viewer is taking in the whole of the painted object, an image/object fusion on a scale that recalls the influence of icons on early abstraction while going further in breaking the bounds of painting’s default rectangle.
As a context and foil for his new paintings this exhibition includes fine examples from the range of Goodyear’s painting concerns throughout his exemplary career as an equally rigorous and playful abstract painter who has never lost the recollection of the figure. Notice how all these paintings do something in real space, projecting (optically, or physically, or both) a plane beyond the given surface of a “normative” canvas or panel. Goodyear’s newest paintings are witty and distilled extensions (pun intended) of his mischievous restlessness when faced with the rectangular containment of the painting’s surface. Distillation and wit are, in fact, the hallmarks of his continuing achievement over a long and brilliant career.
John Goodyear was born in Los Angeles, California in 1930 and later moved to Grosse Ile, Michigan. From 1956 to 1962, Goodyear taught at the University of Michigan, Grand Rapids. While painting his house in the late 1950s, Goodyear formed the idea to paint in the third-dimension, resulting in works that fluctuate between painting and sculpture, in which moving parts invite the viewer to participate. In 1962 he received a grant from the Graham Foundation, which lead to a two-year teaching position at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
While at UMass, Amherst, Goodyear prepared for the grant a body of work that by 1964 would become his first solo show in New York at the Amel Gallery. During the early to mid 1960s, these three-dimensional paintings resulted in suspended open grids behind which hangs a canvas with a pattern. These kinetic constructions quickly grabbed the attention of many prestigious museums. He was included in Art of the Responsive Eye, Museum of Modern Art, New York (1965), Optic Art Today, Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo (1965), Light/Motion/Space, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1966), and three exhibitions in 1966 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
By 1964 Goodyear was teaching at the Mason Gross School of Visual Art, Rutgers University, replacing Roy Lichtenstein. Goodyear later became chairman of the Art Department. John Goodyear’s works is held in over sixty museum collections worldwide including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among many others.