Artist: Michael Goldberg

 A prolific artist who defied categorization, Michael Goldberg's extensive body of work is expressive of his steadfast and singular vision, imbued with emotional power and bursting with energy.
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Either you find that you’re behind the times or ahead of them. It doesn’t matter. What matters is your own times.

Michael Goldberg

Michael Goldberg at a Glance

Michael Goldberg was born Sylvan Irwin Goldberg and went by the pseudonym Michael Stuart for a short time in the 1950s

In 1962, he moved into Mark Rothko’s old studio space at 222 Bowery in the Lower East Side

Goldberg loved jazz and liked to “play the music so loud I can drown the world out”

During the war, he became a master sergeant in the China-Burma-India Theater

After making his first major sale as a young artist, Goldberg’s first purchase was an electric blanket

Michael Goldberg in his studio, 1982. Photo by Robert Vogele

For me, the concept of abstract painting is still the primary visual challenge of our time. It might get harder and harder to make an abstract image that’s believable but I think that just makes the challenge greater.

Michael Goldberg

Auction Results Michael Goldberg

Public Collections

Academy Art Museum, Eastern, Maryland
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York
Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock
Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois
Ball State University Art Museum, Muncie, Indiana
Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland
Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama
Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas, Austin
Boise Art Museum, Idaho
The Brooklyn Museum, New York
Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Virginia
Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado.
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
The Dayton Art Institute, Ohio
DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, Massachusetts
Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, Delaware
Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Greenville County Museum of Art, South Carolina
Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana
Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska
Lawrence H. Bloedel Collection of American Art
Miami Art Museum, Miami, Florida
Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, Mississippi
Montana Historical Society, Helena, Montana
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

Museum of Modern Art, Jerusalem, Israel
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
The New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana
Museum of Modern Western Art, Tokyo, Japan
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona
Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine
Richard F. Brush Art Gallery, St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington
Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, New York
Helen Forsman Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence
University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach
University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley
University of Kentucky Art Museum, Lexington
University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor
Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut
Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, Montana
The Jane Voorhees Zimmareli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey

Michael Goldberg 1924–2008

Michael Goldberg defies classification. Often described as a second generation Abstract Expressionist; the Bronx-born artist began carving out his place in the canon when he started painting in 1939 at the age of fifteen. He had finished high school a year earlier and enrolled in classes at City College. His foray into collegiate life was short lived, however. More interested in the Jazz clubs near campus, Goldberg started skipping classes and promptly dropped out. At the age of seventeen, like many of the leading artists of the time, he began studying under Hans Hofmann. After the outbreak of World War II, Goldberg enlisted in the United States Army as a paratrooper and earned a purple heart for his service—an honor befitting of the man described by so many as immensely generous, gregarious and formidable. Upon returning to the states, Goldberg continued to study under Hofmann and participated in Leo Castelli’s groundbreaking Ninth Street Show in 1951. A regular at the Cedar Bar in New York, he was known for having involved conversations about painting and for telling epic tales from his past. Needless to say, he befriended many artists who also frequented the famed watering hole including poet Frank O’Hara who would become a lifelong friend and occasional collaborator.

For a short time, Goldberg exhibited under the name Michael Stuart, a pseudonym he quickly dropped before his first solo show at Tibor de Nagy gallery in 1953. The first of many for the artist, he had ninety-nine solo shows by 2003. In the late 1950s, as painting trends diverged and hard-edge minimalism began to rise, Goldberg remained committed to his style and continued to paint gestural, abstract works. During this period, Martha Jackson Gallery began representing him, and his work gained the widespread attention that it deserved. In 1969, Goldberg met artist Lynn Umlauf and the couple married ten years later. Both Goldberg and Umlauf taught at the School of Visual Arts, splitting their time between New York and Tuscany. Throughout his career as an artist, Goldberg charted his own path, falling in and out of favor with critics who seemed unsure of how to categorize him, all the while remaining steadfast to his vision. In 2001, six years before his death from a heart attack, he affirmed, “Either you find that you’re behind the times or ahead of them. It doesn’t matter. What matters is your own times.” Michael Goldberg exhibited widely during his time and his work can be found in countless private and public collections including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C. and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

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