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Jack Goldstein

American
(1945–2003)

Untitled (JG/AF-4)
1988

Acrylic on canvas
84 x 84 x 6.25 in.
Gift of the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation
2004.16

Jack Goldstein’s earliest works were sculptures, followed by films, performances, and sound recordings. His paintings, though they came later, maintained his primary interest in representing power as weight, current, velocity or, in this work, as electromagnetic force. He never indicated the sources of his images in titles, but this painting seems to be a representation of radio waves emitted by an astronomical object. The image is a translation of a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that we cannot see into a range of visible color. The idea that all images are mediated by the systems used to produce them was important to Jack and to many artists of his generation. They rejected the idea that images could have direct optical impact.

Like the minimalists and earth artists who preceded him, Goldstein was interested in elemental forces but equally so in mechanisms, in apparatuses: the medium in McLuhan’s sense. Natural phenomena, such as lightning, as well as filmic effects had similar impacts, with both being seen primarily as images through an observing medium. Jack once said to me that he wanted to combine the directness of minimalism and the brightness and energy of pop art. Like other artists of the period he wanted his paintings to have the presence and power of an object and an image; in effect he wanted to be Richard Serra and Andy Warhol. The depth of this series of paintings (sometimes eighteen inches, as compared with a typical depth of two to four inches) was an important part of their effect. The thingness of the work as a three-dimensional object was in bold contrast to the highly constructed and mediated two-dimensional image.

Meg Cranston


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