John Goodyear | Perspectives | Six Decades




“John Goodyear’s way not so much makes art as it allows art to happen, as if art were somehow there all along, as if latent, awaiting activation." [1]

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, November 10, 2015 -- Berry Campbell is pleased to present an exhibition by John Goodyear (b. 1930).  This important show will feature over twenty paintings, sculptures, and drawings from six decades of Goodyear's career.  The show opens on November 25, 2015 and runs through January 2, 2016 with an opening reception on Thursday, December 10 from 6 to 8 PM.

In a career that spans more than six decades, John Goodyear has utilized painting, drawing, light, optics, installation, and heat to engage his audience and re-contextualize the viewer’s present observation. These shifting views created throughout his career reveal a body of work that lends itself to both reflection on the inner self and discovery of the outside world. Goodyear said it simply and best: “Art makes one see, what one sees makes art.”

John Goodyear was born in Los Angeles, California in 1930 and later moved to Grosse Ile, Michigan. In 1947 he won a full tuition scholarship to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, graduating with a Bachelor in Design in 1952. In 1954 he received his Masters of Design from the University. Following graduation he immediately was drafted into the U.S. Army and served two years in Japan, where his wife, Anne Dixon, whom he met and married at college, joined him. His service in Japan would have an important impact on his work. Japanese architecture and Zen Buddhism led to the sparse ambiguity that would go on to characterize his work.

After painting his house in Michigan in the late 1950s, Goodyear began painting on his own three-dimensional structures. The resulting works were both painting and sculpture, or neither. Eventually, moveable parts invited the viewer to participate. In 1962 he received a grant from the Graham Foundation, which he used to prepare a body of work that by 1964 would become his first solo show in New York at the Amel Gallery.

During the early to mid 1960s, these three-dimensional paintings resulted in suspended open grids behind which hangs a canvas. The hanging grilles are activated not by motors but by the touch of the hand or a walk-by creating optical movement, illusions of perspective, and shimmering colors. Goodyear has commented that “chance effects enliven rigid structures” and thus the viewer determines what is seen and finds multiple ways to see the same thing.

For him kinetic artwork was a revolutionary break from emotionally charged Abstract Expressionism, finding that art can be powerful through optical shocks and rhythmic movement. Writing about his show at Amel Gallery in the New York Times, Brian O’Doherty said, “It is in fact a staggering display of invention and virtuosity within strict disciplines, a show in which intelligence manipulates feeling with the exact and removed precision of those handling devices for shielded radioactive material.”

These kinetic constructions quickly grabbed the attention of many prestigious museums. He was included in Art of the Responsive Eye, Museum of Modern Art, New York (1965), Optic Art Today, Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo (1965), Light/Motion/Space, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1966), and three exhibitions in 1966 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

In 1976, around the time Goodyear was returning to the figure in his work he joined the American Abstract Artists (AAA), a group that was formed in 1936 to promote the understanding of abstract art in the wake of Social Realism.  Although seemingly paradoxical, it was not: Goodyear would work in both an objective and non-objective manner throughout his career.  He continues to be an important member of the organization today.

During the seventies he received a fellowship to work under Gyorgy Kepes at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies, Cambridge. Just finishing a sculpture series that featured inner heating at MIT, he began a series of exhibitions that were installed internationally. Six works relating to this Earth Curve series were shown at the Museum of Modern Art (1972). Residual affects of the MIT experience may have led to his involvement during the eighties creating public sculpture when Goodyear began working on commissions. His first was The Death of Socrates, for the New Jersey Arts Inclusion Program. 

He would go on to do many other public works including one at the State House in Trenton, New Jersey. His 'death of Socrates' concept stayed on for some time spawning paintings, prints and sculpture.  The practice of public works encouraged larger works and what came to be called Negative Figure sculptures in which the figure was shown in a space between two abstract shapes. The connection between a public work and its site was copied in a series of paintings where two roughly drawn art historical images were shown interacting with each other in the same work.

In 2000 he was awarded a major retrospective at the Michener Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania. During this time, he and his wife also served as co-curators of Dada Country at the Hunterdon Museum of Art, Clinton, New Jersey.  During this decade at least three new directions were instigated including over-lapping images called Double Subject, developed from the large paintings of the nineties; an anti-war installation at the Hunterdon Art Museum; and in 2005 a return to three-dimensional kinetic constructions with schematic figuration.

In all six decades, Goodyear requires the viewer to become a powerful component of his work as they enter into the production of harmonious dissonances. He sought varied approaches to finding identity between figure and abstraction. Goodyear’s playful intellect helps us see our own unity with our surroundings.

John Goodyear’s works are held in over sixty museum collections worldwide including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among many others.  

Berry Campbell continues to fill an important gap in the downtown art world, showcasing the work of prominent and mid-career artists in the modernist tradition. The owners, Christine Berry and Martha Campbell, share a curatorial vision of bringing new attention to the works of a selection of postwar and contemporary artists and revealing how these artists have advanced ideas and lessons in powerful and new directions.  Other artists and estates represented by the gallery are Edward Avedisian, Walter Darby Bannard, Stanley Boxer, Eric Dever, Perle Fine, Balcomb Greene, Gertrude Greene, John Goodyear, Ken Greenleaf, Raymond Hendler, Jill Nathanson, Stephen Pace, Charlotte Park, William Perehudoff, Ann Purcell, Albert Stadler, Mike Solomon, Syd Solomon, Susan Vecsey, James Walsh, and Joyce Weinstein.

Berry Campbell Gallery is located in the heart of the Chelsea Arts District at 530 West 24th Street, Ground Floor, New York, NY 10011. For information, please contact Christine Berry or Martha Campbell at 212.924.2178 or


[1] Carl Belz, “Rewind and Reflect: John Goodyear,” Pole Paintings and Kinetic Paintings (Wellesley, Massachusetts: David Hall Fine Art, 2012).