Michael Goldberg (1924-2007), a central figure in the Abstract Expressionist movement as it developed in New York in the late 1940s, is known for his action-packed, gestural canvases. Over the course of his long career he went through many stylistic phases that included colorful gesture filled oil and collage works, monochromatic works of red and then black, bands of white on black, caligraphic images and bright bands of color hinting of architectural forms.
He was also an art educator who taught at the University of California, Berkeley from 1961 to 1962; Yale University in 1967; and the University of Minnesota in 1968. He and his artist wife, Lynn Umlauf, both taught at the School of Visual Arts in New York city. Goldberg was born in 1924 in the Bronx of New York City. His studies at the Art Students League, 1938-1942, were interrupted by World War II where he served as a paratrooper in North Africa and Burma, making eighty jumps behind Japanese lines.
Returning to New York, he studied with Jose de Creeft and Hans Hofmann, and Hoffman remained a strong influence. He was also influenced by Roberto Matta and Arshile Gorky, but it was Willem de Kooning, and his use of fiery brush-work and explosive color, who would prove to be Goldberg’s greatest influence. Goldberg participated in the seminal 9th St. Show of 1951 and received his first solo exhibition at Tibor de Nagy Gallery in 1953. Beginning 1980, he spent five months of each year in Tuscany, Italy on an estate near Siena. In his studio there, he created many of his signature paintings done with oil sticks pressed directly onto canvas. Goldberg died on December 30, 2007 while working in his studio at 222 Bowery in New York City (Mark Rothko’s old studio).