“Jack Goldstein x 10,000” at the Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California

Jack Goldstein
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1975
16mm film, color, sound
3 min.
Courtesy Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne and the Estate of Jack Goldstein
When one thinks about the art and life of Jack Goldstein, it can be compared to the legend of Icarus, whose wings made of wax reached too close to  the sun and then melted in midair; leaving him falling to Earth. Jack Goldstein reached the height of artistic and critical fame in the 1970s and 80s. After 1990, Goldstein fell off the artistic map and ended his own life in 2003. “Jack Goldstein x 10,000,”  organized by OCMA and guest-curated by Philipp Kaiser, is the first American retrospective of the Canadian-born artist Jack Goldstein (1945-2003), who spent most of his life in Southern California and became a central figure in the Pictures Generation of the 1970s, which grounded much of its art on the Postmodernist discourse of the time. This extensive exhibition frames Goldstein as a pivotal artist of his generation, and showcases his influential paintings and films, while also including many sound recordings, installations, and ephemera. Goldstein's work, considered critical to younger artists now looking back to the 70s and 80s, has been highly influential, and "Jack Goldstein x 10,000" provides audiences who may not be familiar with his work an in-depth understanding of its extraordinary breadth. "Jack Goldstein x 10,000" opened on June 24 and remains on view through September 9, 2012. The exhibition traces the artistic and critical development of Goldstein’s work, whose work is still relevant in today’s hyper-image saturated world.                 

If one thinks about Goldstein’s work, his work is about the image and how they affect those around us. After graduating from Cal Arts in 1972 along with David Salle and James Welling, Goldstein began making work that reflected both influence of film and television on visual culture. The first part of the show deals with Goldstein’s work from the early 1970s to 1980. The rooms are filled with Goldstein’s films and vinyl works. Goldstein was intrigued by how images and sound affect the human senses. As a visitor enters the beginning of the exhibition, videos appropriating the MGM Studios lion, a dancer, a fencing match, and a knife play in constant repetition. The films loop over and over again, as if the viewer is stuck in an endless image maelstrom. The images exhaust themselves in a never ending loop of split second samples.  This repetition of appropriated images is what Goldstein was trying to convey. The appropriation, repetition and exhaustion became a post modern critique of the commoditization and saturation of the image.  Goldstein was pivotal in Douglas Crimp’s group show “Pictures” in 1979, where he showed with the likes of Sherrie Levine, Robert Longo, Cindy Sherman, and Troy Brauntuch. The exhibition helped establish the post modern critique that is still the subject of debates on authenticity and originality.
 
Within the context of post modernism and appropriation, Goldstein also began working in a diverse and visually eclectic practice.  Two immersive installations in the exhibition demonstrate the full range of Goldstein’s practice. Burning Window (1977) is a standard panel window installed on the front exterior wall of an empty, enclosed room. The wall with the window is painted red. The panes of the window are red textured plexiglass. Behind the window are flickering electric candles that simulate the appearance of fire. The window functions as a “safe” yet fragile barrier in front of which the world appears as a stylized inferno. This spectacle, which may be experienced as simultaneously “real” and cinematic illusion, calls into question the fundamental stability of visual experience.

           A second installation, Sound Performance (1979), takes place in an empty white room with a ceiling painted deep blue. A speaker is installed in each of the upper corners of the room: two play the sound of a train arriving and two play the sound of a plane passing. The sound images invoke strong associations with each form of travel—trains arrive into the present while planes soar into the future—and these two contradictory mental pictures dislocate the viewer’s sense of space, time, and motion: one is “coming” to rest at a destination and the other is “going” elsewhere; one is physically grounded and the other is soaring into disembodied space. The blue ceiling within the installation space is a visual anchor that spatially unifies the two sound images and a reference to the theatricality of the event.

                In the second part of the show the image becomes sublime. As if he practically abandons his postmodern critique, Goldstein begins to paint large canvases appropriating photos from World War II and astronomical photography. His paintings are grand in their presentation and execution. One gets lost in the picture. The paintings pull the viewer inward, into the image. Goldstein’s paintings appropriate the image. Yet the viewer is not trapped in repetition or endless looping as in his earlier film and video work.  Whether Goldstein betrayed the postmodernist critique is open for debate. According to the essay by Phillip Kaiser, in the well written catalog that accompanies the exhibition, critics began to refer to Goldstein’s paintings as retardaire or counter to the leading postmodernist theorist. Like his contemporary David Salle, who was began to paint at the same time as Goldstein, the paintings gained popular and critical acclaim. 

Jack Goldstein
Untitled, 1981
Acrylic on canvas
82 3/4 x 130 in. (210.2 x 330.2 cm)
Collection of Joan and Fred Nicholas
 
                Toward the end of the 1980s and into the early 90s, Goldstein’s production of art began to wane.  He began to work on words and language.  Goldstein’s written works appropriated words from film, movie advertising and scripts, I think this is where Goldstein loses his power. The written works are not as compelling visually as his painting and film works. This is also where the exhibit ends. Not in a grand manner, but quietly as if Goldstein disappeared from all to see. Overall the exhibition is compelling and worth the visit. Jack Goldstein deserves recognition, because he appropriated images that truly questioned the authenticity and the existence of the author. Goldstein began making work that was in line with the contemporary dialogue of the time. He then broke the rules and began painting while maintaining an integrity that left him true to the appropriator critique. Plagued by demons that eventually took his life, the exhibition makes you wonder what could have been if his career had continued. His contemporaries today, Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, and David Salle are as popular and well regarded as ever. The life and career of Jack Goldstein is a meditation on both fame and loss. This retrospective is long over-due and a must see.



Jack Goldstein
A Ballet Shoe, 1975
16mm film, color, silent
19 sec.
Courtesy Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne and the Estate of Jack Goldstein

Jack Goldstein
Burning Window, 1977
The performance takes place in an long, empty, rectangular room with a black ceiling. One wall is painted red. A standard panel window with a red frame is installed on the red wall. Behind this textured red plexiglass panes; flickering electric candles simulate the appearance of fire. The window functions as a "safe" but fragile barrier in front of which the spectator is witness to the world outside as a measureless inferno. This spectacle, which may be felt ambiguously both as "real" and as a "cinematic" illusion, calls into question the “truth” of visual experience.



Jack Goldstein
Shane, 1975
16mm film, color, sound
3 min.
Courtesy Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne and the Estate of Jack Goldstein

Jack Goldstein
The Jump, 1978
16mm film, color, silent
26 sec.
Courtesy Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne and the Estate of Jack Goldstein

Jack Goldstein
Underwater Sea Fantasy, 1983/2003
16mm film, color, sound
6:30 min.
Courtesy Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne and the Estate of Jack Goldstein

Jack Goldstein
Untitled, 1983
Acrylic on Canvas
60 x 60 in.
Courtesy the Estate of Jack Goldstein



Jack Goldstein
Untitled, 1981
Acrylic on canvas
112 x 83 in. (284.5 x 210.8 cm)
S.L. Simpson Collection, Toronto

Jack Goldstein
Untitled, 1984
Acrylic on canvas
72 x 72 in. (182.9 x 182.9 cm)
Collection of the Orange County Museum of Art, museum purchase with funds provided through prior gift of Mrs. Ethel Rose

Jack Goldstein
Untitled, 1988
Acrylic on canvas
84 x 72 in. (213 x 182 cm)
S.L. Simpson Collection, Toronto

Jack Goldstein
Untitled, 1989-90
13 works on paper
17 x 11 in. each.
Collection of Peter R. Stern, New York

Jack Goldstein
Untitled, 1989
Acrylic on canvas
72 x 84 in. (182 x 213 cm)
Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Gift of Sandra L. Simpson

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