One hundred typewritten pages from Jack Goldstein’s Selectric Works were chosen by Robert Longo to be shown in Metro Pictures’s upstairs gallery during his own exhibition of new drawings in the main galleries. This is the first presentation of the Selectric Works in New York.
Goldstein is known for his paintings, films, records, and performances produced during the 1970s and 1980s, but he also made typewritten works throughout his career. Consisting of 17 x 11” sheets of white paper with central arrangements of text, the works were created in the late 1980s on a wide carriage 1960s-era IBM Selectric typewriter. This machine innovated interchangeable typeballs of various fonts, allowing the simulation of typesetting. The image of the artist changing the metal balls to compose each page adds a comedic performance element to the works, which otherwise recall the austere graphic design elements of some early conceptual art.
Goldstein’s friend and fellow artist James Welling has written, “these texts are the only works Jack literally made,” his paintings, films, and records being made by fabricators. The Selectric Works, in contrast, seem to “work against this willful distance.” The texts are drawn from, excerpted, and appropriated from a variety of philosophical and literary works. They seem familiar, yet their sources are not readily identifiable. John Kelsey has written that “if we do read Goldstein, it’s by staring, at a cool distance from language, as if the writing were a special effect on a silent screen.”
Goldstein (1945-2003) was born in Montreal, Canada, and attended art school at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and the California Institute of the Arts. He lived in New York from the mid-1970s through the mid-1990s before returning to Los Angeles. Metro Pictures represented Goldstein from 1980 to 1986 with five one-person exhibitions and a 2005 memorial exhibition. His work was most recently included in the exhibition Disappearing—California, c. 1970: Bas Jan Ader, Chris Burden, Jack Goldstein at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, curated by Philipp Kaiser, who also organized a retrospective at The Jewish Museum, New York, and other venues. Goldstein was a core figure in the 2009 exhibition The Pictures Generation, 1974–1984 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
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