Brenda Goodman, Scars and All

Brenda Goodman, “Above and Beyond” (2022), oil and mixed media on wood, 60 inches x 72 inches

A fresh, unexpected buoyancy comes through in Brenda Goodman’s recent abstract paintings, which mark her entrance into new territory. Goodman, who recently turned 80, has been making strong work since her student days in the mid-1960s at the College for Creative Studies (then the Society of Arts and Crafts) in Detroit. In 1976, she left Detroit, where she was part of the gritty Cass Corridor movement, and moved to New York. While her work was included in the 1979 Whitney Biennial, she did not start to exhibit regularly in New York until she was in her late 70s. Continuing to work in a way that did not fit into the art world’s commercial interests, Goodman flew largely under the radar until 2015, when her work was selected to be in the Academy of Arts and Letters’ annual exhibition and she received an award. In 2019, she had her first show at Sikkema Jenkins, which continues to represent her.

Goodman’s oeuvre can be divided into distinct periods, each characterized by a body of work that resembled nothing by her contemporaries. Between 1994 and 2007, she made a series of self-portraits portraying herself as an insatiable devourer that I have described as “one of the most powerful and disturbing achievements of portraiture in modern art.”

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