Veteran LA Artist Joe Goode Brings the Heat at Kohn Gallery
The artist helped put LA's art scene on the map in the 1960s.
Henri Neuendorf, March 23, 2017
Coinciding with the artist’s 80th birthday, Los Angeles’s Kohn Gallery will present a survey exhibition of the Los Angeles artist Joe Goode, a veteran of the Californian light and space and conceptual art movements.
A native of Oklahoma City who moved West, Goode was a prominent figure within the small circle of artists of the 1960s Los Angeles art scene. Today, we’ve grown accustomed to the perception of LA as an American art capital, but in those days it was very much regarded as cultural backwater, and Goode—along with his contemporaries—irrevocably changed that perception. Fellow Oklahoman Ed Ruscha remains a close friend of Goode’s, and the catalogue essay includes a charming anecdote about the two young artists hitchhiking from Los Angeles to New York to visit Andy Warhol.
“There was not as much of an art scene as now,” Goode told artnet News in an email. “So, because of that, it felt different, I guess, than it would feel in New York, because there weren’t decades of established artists before us. It seemed more ‘open’ in that sense. The skies were open, like Oklahoma, and we felt like pioneers, only competing with ourselves really.”
Over the course of his six decade career, Goode experimented with representation, abstraction, and conceptual art. These facets of his oeuvre are all included in Kohn Gallery’s exhibition, which also encompasses some of his new works.
“As the show title ‘Old Ideas with New Solutions,’ indicates, they are a revisitation of several series that I did in the past,” Good continued. “I guess to a degree, I’ve been reflecting on past work. When you’ve been working as long as I have, some things will come back around… The subject and some of the techniques may be similar to older works, but as always I look for a new way to see them.”
His “Milk Bottle” paintings from the early 1960s playfully investigate human perception and the significance of perspective, themes that had a profound effect on his work and greatly influenced his career.
“The Milk Bottle paintings came to me one morning when I came home from working nights,” Goode recalled. “We were having milk delivered home and I saw the bottle sitting on the steps. I was intrigued by the idea of placing the bottle in front of the painting and creating a multidimensional space.”
Other parts of his oeuvre, such as “House Paintings” (looking in from the outside) and his sculptural “Stairs” (looking out from the inside) allude to the same principle.
Goode’s more recent work highlighted in the show, such as his pieces from his “California Summer” and “Ocean Blue” series, places greater emphasis on abstraction while he shifts his attention towards the human impact on our planet. Where “Ocean Blue” retains the perspectival aspect of his early work—Goode explains that the paintings are meant to evoke the feeling of being submerged underwater—the raw heat depicted in “California Summer” emphasizes the man-made dangers of global warming.
Meanwhile, his “TV Blues” series again evokes the guiding principle of perspective (looking at the TV). Such early themes often reappear, fluidly flowing in and out of his work. For example, Goode had previously investigated the natural world (the sky) and perspective (looking up) in his “Sky Paintings.”
“I don’t feel like my work changes, and in a way I’ve been making the same painting for 50 years,” Goode admits in the catalogue essay. “Every new series presents a new set of problems, and that’s part of what keeps me working.