Neil Goodman

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Neil Goodman
Hammond, Indiana, United States
EducationTyler School of Art, Kansas City Art Institute, Indiana University Bloomington
Known forSculpture, public art
SpouseJoEllyn Codespoti Goodman
ChildrenMaurice Goodman, Hana Goodman, Jenna Wright, Stephen Stults
AwardsPublic commissions: City of Chicago, Brauer Museum of Art, Museum of Outdoor Arts Indiana University Northwest
WebsiteNeil Goodman Sculpture

Neil Goodman is an American sculptor and educator, known for bronze works that combine elegant arrangements and forms with hand-wrought, textured surfaces.[1][2][3][4] He has explored a wide range of formats—still-life compositions, wall and floor installations, free-standing works and monumental public art—in a formalist style that has evolved from spare representation to abstraction and minimalism.[5][6]

Neil Goodman, museum installation at Indiana State Museum, cast bronze and fiberglass works, 2006.

Goodman's sculpture has been featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago ("Art in Chicago 1945-1995" survey), Indianapolis Museum of Art, Brauer Museum of Art, and Museum of Outdoor Arts (2018).[7][8][9][10] He has been awarded public commissions for Chicago's McCormick Place Convention Center, the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Indiana University Northwest, and cities in Connecticut, Indiana and Michigan, among others.[11][12][13][14][15] Curator Gregg Hertzlieb describes Goodman's abstract sculptures as "sophisticated explorations of formal issues [that] concurrently pulse with organic life … and appeal to the hand, the eye, and the mind."[9] In an earlier review, New Art Examiner editor Kathryn Hixson called him a "sculptor's sculptor" whose "purposeful craftsmanship of ritualistic tableaux and talismanic objects" engages "the sensual shift from two to three dimensions."[4]

After being based in the Chicago area and teaching at Indiana University Northwest for most of his career, Goodman lives and works on the Central Coast in California.[10]

Early life and career[edit]

Goodman was born in 1953 in Hammond, Indiana, a steel-mill city outside of Chicago, whose industrial rust-belt landscape remains a key influence.[16][17][6] His college studies began in philosophy and religion, before he turned to pottery and then sculpture at Indiana University Bloomington (BA, Fine Arts and Religious Studies, 1976).[18][16] In the late 1970s, he was drawn to working in metal and completed postgraduate studies in sculpture at the Kansas City Art Institute (1977) and Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia (MFA, Sculpture and Ceramics, 1979).[16][17][19] He secured a teaching position at Indiana University Northwest (IUN) in Gary in 1979 as a founding member of the Fine Arts department.[17][20] In 1991, he purchased a two-story residential loft building on Chicago's south side that served as his studio and a home for him, his wife, JoEllyn Codespoti Goodman, and their children, Maurice and Hana Goodman, Jenna Wright and Stephen Stults.[17][21]

Goodman emerged in the Chicago art scene with a two-person exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center in 1980,[22] group shows at the Illinois State Museum and Dart, Struve, Roy Boyd and Randolph Street galleries,[23][24][25][26] and solo shows at Frumkin & Struve Gallery (his first in Chicago) and the Indianapolis Center alumni for Contemporary Art, among others.[27][28] His later exhibitions include a mid-career surveys at the Chicago Cultural Center (1997) and Indiana State Museum (2006),[29][30] a retrospective at the Museum of Outdoor Arts (2018),[6] and solos at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art (1994), Brauer Museum of Art (2016), and Perimeter, Klein and Carl Hammer galleries in Chicago.[31][9][32][3][33]

Since 2017, Goodman has been an Emeritus Professor of Fine Arts at IUN, after nearly four decades there teaching and serving as department chair (1998–2001, 2007–11).[10][34]

Work and reception[edit]

Neil Goodman, Triptych, cast bronze, 64" x 72" x 5.5", 1988.

Goodman's career is noted for its consistent modernist formal vocabulary, which has evolved through nuanced but significant experimentation from representation and narrative toward abstraction and minimalism;[6][9][35] he cites Giacometti and Brâncuși as important touchstones.[33][3][36] His work—primarily in bronze—is unified by: a visual grammar that emphasizes balance and strong lines; a workmanlike mastery of technique and craft, including casting and painstaking hand-finished surfaces; an emphasis on presentation and the relationship of sculpture to various spaces (pedestals, walls, floors, galleries, outdoors); and contrasts between industrial, architectural and geometric forms and natural-organic elements and textures.[37][4][3][6][38] James Yood and Alan Artner, among others, note his sensitivity to bronze—its patina, luster, and malleability—which follows in the tradition of masters such as Henry Moore, Marini, Maillol and Giacometti.[37][36][39][33]

Early work (1979–1993)[edit]

Goodman's early sculpture combines representation and abstraction, oblique narrative, and an almost archaeological concern with objects and the passage of time.[40][41] Formally, it defies sculptural convention, interpreting painterly strategies, such as the still life and frontal, single-plane presentation, in bronze.[36][1][42][6] Critics identify painters Pierre Chardin and Giorgio Morandi as key influences, while also relating the bio-abstraction of Arp, Brancusi, Isamu Noguchi and Yves Tanguy and the vitalist sculpture of Moore and Barbara Hepworth.[22][1][43][4][41]

Goodman first gained attention for intimate, low-lying still lifes that bring together disparate artifacts and architectural elements in elegant familiar tableaux suggesting dinner settings or shelf arrangements (e.g., Still Life with Catfish, 1979; Still Life #1, 1988).[22][23][44][37] ARTnews critic Garrett Holg writes that the combinations of common, man-made objects (rods, bowls, glasses, forks) and droll castings of temporal organic forms (vegetables, fish) formed "a profoundly eloquent discourse on the still life."[29] James Yood wrote that Goodman's "isolated and huddled" objects and pitted and scumbled surfaces convey hard-won existence and anonymous heroism with a "majesty and quality of restraint reminiscent of Chardin."[37]

Goodman's imposing, freestanding "Cage" works have been likened to open-backed reliefs resembling altarpieces, which use thin, vertical architectonic frameworks to define and section interior spaces into platforms and compartments for the display of abstract and representational (bowls, fish, implements) forms.[29][36][37][15] Critics highlight the series' complex interrelationships and compositional variety, which ranges from near-screens of hieroglyphic-like screens (Triptych, 1988)[37] to delicate, shadow-box-like balances of fluid, multi-dimensional space (Cyclades, 1986; Cage #4, 1988).[36][1][42][7] Goodman's "Bellingham Series" (1990) offers "mini-assemblages" of reinvented nautical tools and other forms, whose significance rely less on symbolism than on sensitive, asymmetrical compositions (e.g., Ledge and Prop) that hint at Cubist-like fragmentation.[1][43][2][15]

Neil Goodman, Biography, cast bronze, 9' x 15' x 6", 2011.

Wall and floor groupings (1994– )[edit]

Goodman made a dramatic shift with his site-specific installation Subjects/Objects (1994), which fully realized the frontality of earlier work and broke with traditional in-the-round sculptural presentation.[40][16] It consisted of forty-seven free-floating, hand-wrought bronze wall-objects in a modular arrangement that emphasized dynamic rhythms achieved through contrasts between horizontal and vertical lines, organic and geometric shapes, and activated negative space; critics likened the groupings of seemingly natural, ceremonial and utilitarian artifacts to a museum archaeological display or tools organized on a pegboard.[40][2][41][45] Noting the objects' intimacy and detailed textures, Kathryn Hixson wrote that Goodman "dismantles the hype of monumental Modernism in favor of a hand-held, more useful version."[4] In later installations at IUN (Subjects-Objects, 1996) and the Chicago Cultural Center (1998), Goodman explored arrangements that migrated across floors rather than walls.[2][4]

Goodman's free-floating separation of elements without containing or shared supports also detached his work from the self-referential traditions of formalism and the art-object, transforming it into something open-ended and interior like language, which viewers are left to complete.[40][16][6] Margaret Hawkins links this aspect formally and symbolically to Goodman's traditional Jewish youth reading Hebrew, which shares a sense of heightened meaning derived from code-like forms;[6] the connection is most evident in two subsequent public wall commissions: Temple Jeremiah (1995, Northbrook, Illinois) and Jewish Heritage Museum (1998, Danville, California).[15][46]

In 1997, Goodman created Passage for Chicago's McCormick Place South Pavilion, a 90' x 15' permanent wall installation that features an "alphabet" of more than 130 forms, many nautical, reflecting its lakeside locale; a triangular-shaped, stairwell wall-piece, Subject-Object (2000), resides in the Block Museum of Art in Evanston, Illinois.[45][47][15] With the later works Biography (2011) and Eclipse (2014), Goodman returned to monumental wall-works, in this case linking bronze elements in the manner of chain mail; ARTnews likened the former to a giant pendant of blade forms evocative of symbolic code, tribal ornamentation and "mod, space-age forms."[48]

Outdoor public sculpture and gallery work (2000– )[edit]

After winning a competition in 2000 to create an outdoor work for the Dow Centennial Sculpture Garden in Midland, Michigan (Centennial Passage), Goodman began conceiving sculptures in terms of site-specificity and multiple vantage points, encouraging viewers to move around and look at and through sculptures to notice shifting forms, voids and relationships to architecture, space, and landscape.[3][17][6] More inclusive, participatory and conversational—as suits the social dimension of public art—this work was also, in formal terms, emphatically linear and more minimal, open and three-dimensional.[3][49][39][17] This approach extended to Goodman's gallery exhibitions, which often presented motifs and works later adapted for monumental outdoor pieces and recreated the ensemble sense of a sculpture park, with great attention to placement, scale, lighting and interrelationships.[47][5][41][39]

Neil Goodman, Night and Day, cast bronze, 16' x 7' x 8" (without base), 2019.

Between 2000–6, Goodman developed his "Shadows and Echoes" works, which redefine and re-contextualize their environments through linear windows, frames and passages.[47][50] The series—formally unified by repetitions of line, module and motif (loops, arcs, arches, pyramids, wedges)—was inspired by disparate sources connected by inherent design structures: abstracted nature (e.g., Slither, Reach), geometry (Four Corners), industrial leftovers (Crank, Mirror), the arabesques of the Moorish Alhambra (Andalusia).[47][5][41][3][39] Curator Geoffrey Bates describes them as sculpted with a "beautifully controlled" fine line rather than mass, "creating sculptural presence from empty space";[51] Margaret Hawkins describes them as "light as paper" and airy, like music or mathematical equations, despite their heft.[52] The series culminated in a sculpture garden at the center of the IUN campus that features ten monumental bronze outdoor sculptures interacting with a native landscape designed by Cynthia Owen-Bergland.[50][13][34][17] In 2010, Goodman installed five "Shadows and Echoes" works cast in fiberglass in an outdoor exhibition at the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park in University Park, Illinois.[51][9]

In his exhibitions of the 2010s, Goodman continued to pare down motifs inspired by industrial, geometric, and natural forms in freestanding, floor and wall pieces that retain their varied, organic surfaces.[53][54][48][33] His vertical, roughly human-sized, freestanding "Columns" (2015–7) repeat, invert, and conjoin basic "U" shapes with blade-like forms in bronze, creating a linear, rhythmic interplay that implies both anthropomorphic and anthropological references (e.g., Cabal and Twist).[33][35] Robin Dluzen suggests that the light networks of intersecting lines in pieces such as Turn reflect the rowed vineyards of California, Goodman's new home.[55] The New Art Examiner describes the contemplation of this work from various angles as a hall-of-mirrors-like multiplicity conveying "a new minimalist strangeness."[33]

A second, horizontal series employs shard-like, trapezoidal forms of greater mass with rectangular "windows" or openings that maximize the synergy of positive and negative spaces, and like earlier work, offer shifting perspectives on their surroundings (e.g., Twilight I and Twilight II).[33][9] Presented as pedestal pieces in gallery shows, these works doubled as studies for the monumental outdoor bronze sculptures Night and Day (2019, commissioned by the Brauer Museum for Valparaiso University) and Rudder (2017, Museum of Outdoor Arts).[9][56][57] Margaret Hawkins and other writers describe these later outdoor works as less about substance than about their voids—"yawning, crooked windows" that frame views and allude to spiritual questions, such as the relationship between being and non-being.[6][19]


In his later career, Goodman has also turned to art writing. He has contributed reviews, essays and interviews to the New Art Examiner, on the Confederate Mound at Chicago's Oak Woods Cemetery[58] and artists including Rembrandt,[59] Kehinde Wiley,[60] Adam Silverman,[61] and Richard Rezac,[20] as well as a memorial to the late Chicago art dealer, Paul Klein.[62] He also wrote the introductory essay for the book, Contemporary Sculptors of Chicago (2020),[63] and an essay for the catalog Night and Day, for his commission at Valparaiso University (2020).[64]

Recognition and collections[edit]

In addition to aforementioned works, Goodman has been awarded public commissions by the City of Chicago (Chicago Public Library, 1995; Martin Luther King Gateway Renovation, 1996; Geography Earth, 2002, Burnham Park Children's Garden),[18] UBS Warburg Tower (2002),[65] Greater Hartford Arts Council/Lincoln Financial (Frontier Life, 2009, Hartford, Connecticut),[66] the Munster (Indiana) Public Art Committee (Prairie Passage, 2009, with Terry Karpowicz),[67] and Indiana University Northwest (Tapestry, 2011).[68][69][14]

His work belongs to the public art collections of the Brauer Museum of Art,[9] Illinois State Museum,[70] Indiana State Museum, Madden Museum of Art, Museum of Outdoor Arts, and Rockford Museum of Art, as well as many corporate and private collections.[69]


  1. ^ a b c d e Yood, James. "Neil Goodman, Struve Gallery," Artforum, November 1990, page 172. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d Artner, Alan G. "Neil Goodman’s sculpture receives a mid-career review," Chicago Tribune, November 25, 1997, page 58. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Cassidy, Victor. "Neil Goodman at Klein Art Works," Art in America, May 2004, pages 167–8.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Hixson, Kathryn. "Neil Goodman, Chicago Cultural Center, Perimeter Gallery," New Art Examiner, April 1998, page 37.
  5. ^ a b c Artner, Alan G. "How the parts relate to the whole," Chicago Tribune, January 18, 2002, Section 7, page 5. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Hawkins, Margaret. "Foreword," Close Proximity: A retrospective of Sculpture by Neil Goodman, Englewood, Colorado: Museum of Outdoor Arts, 2018, pages 18–27.
  7. ^ a b Sacek, Betty. "IUN professors' artwork part of Windy City show," Post Tribune, November 22, 1996, page D5.
  8. ^ Cassidy, Victor. "Chicago Report," Artnet, January 16, 1997. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Hertzlieb, Gregg. So Small Between the Stars, So Large Against the Sky: New Works by Neil Goodman, Valparaiso, IL: Brauer Museum of Art, 2016.
  10. ^ a b c Museum of Outdoor Arts. Close Proximity: A retrospective of Sculpture by Neil Goodman, Englewood, Colorado: Museum of Outdoor Arts, 2018.
  11. ^ Artner, Alan G. "Building on Block," Chicago Tribune, October 8, 2000. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  12. ^ The Block Museum of Art. "Subjects-Objects: Maker, Neil Goodman," Collection. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  13. ^ a b Proctor, Lina. "Venture of Love," Post Tribune, June 23, 2006, page D1, D3.
  14. ^ a b Sculpture magazine. "Dow Centennial Sculpture Garden," Sculpture, November 2000.
  15. ^ a b c d e Cassidy, Victor. "Neil Goodman: Lines Moving Space," Sculpture, November 2001, pages 16–7.
  16. ^ a b c d e Hersh, Lela. "Neil Goodman," Art in Chicago 1945-1995, Museum of Contemporary Art, ed. Lynne Warren, New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996, page 255. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g Perry, Rachel Berenson. Passages and Portals: Sculpture by Neil Goodman, Indianapolis, Indiane: Indiana State Museum, 2006.
  18. ^ a b Berry, S.L. "Artist left books behind, took philosophy into sculpture," Indianapolis Star, May 24, 2002.
  19. ^ a b Smith, Colleen. "Void as Form: An Interview with Neil Goodman," Close Proximity: A retrospective of Sculpture by Neil Goodman, Englewood, Colorado: Museum of Outdoor Arts, 2018, page 38–45.
  20. ^ a b Goodman, Neil and Richard Rezac. "Two Top Sculptors Recall their Time in Chi-Town," New Art Examiner, November/December 2018, pages 13–5, 19. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  21. ^ Kaplan, Kathy. "All in the Family," Chicago Tribune, September 20, 1998. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  22. ^ a b c Forwalter, John. "Sculpture at Library is top-notch," Post-Tribune, October 1980.
  23. ^ a b Artner, Alan G. "Dart Gallery offers contemporary view of still life’s, human form," Chicago Tribune, April 30, 1982.
  24. ^ MacNamara, Peggy. "Goodman, Neri, Silverman," New Art Examiner, May 1983.
  25. ^ Palmer, Lori. "Struve Gallery Exhibition," New Art Examiner, May 1986.
  26. ^ Smallwood, Lyn. "National Sculpture Review," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 10, 1987.
  27. ^ Holg, Garrett. "Neil Goodman at the Struve Gallery," New Art Examiner, November 1988, page 40.
  28. ^ Indianapolis Center for Contemporary Art. Julia Fish | Neil Goodman, Indianapolis, Indiana: Indianapolis Center for Contemporary Art, 1989.
  29. ^ a b c Holg, Garrett. "Neil Goodman Perimeter Gallery/Chicago Cultural Center," ARTnews, February 1998.
  30. ^ Sculpture magazine. "Portals & Passages, Indiana State Museum," Sculpture, July-August 2006.
  31. ^ MacMillan, Kyle. "Summer accompanied by a variety of shows," Sunday World Herald (Omaha), July 3, 1994.
  32. ^ Yood, James. "Neil Goodman at the Perimeter Gallery," Art Ltd, November/December 2014.
  33. ^ a b c d e f g Thorn, Bruce. "Neil Goodman: 'Twists & Turns,'" New Art Examiner, January-February 2018. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  34. ^ a b Kullerstrand, Marge. "IUN’s New Jewel," The Times, June 23, 2006, page A1, A11.
  35. ^ a b Paglia, Michael. "Neil Goodman Retrospective Gets Back to Basics," Westword, September 27, 2018. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  36. ^ a b c d e Artner, Alan G. "At the Galleries: Neil Goodman," Chicago Tribune, September 29, 1988, Section 5, page 9. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  37. ^ a b c d e f Yood, James. Julia Fish | Neil Goodman, Indianapolis, Indiana: Indianapolis Center for Contemporary Art, 1989.
  38. ^ Artner, Alan G. "Neil Goodman at Perimeter Gallery," Chicago Tribune, November 25, 2005, Section 7, page 19.
  39. ^ a b c d Berger, Phillip. "Neil Goodman: 'Portals & Passages'," Time Out, December 15, 2005.
  40. ^ a b c d Scarborough, James. "Neil Goodman, Subjects-Objects and the Devaluation of the Constructivist Imperative," Neil Goodman, Subjects-Objects, Norman, Oklahoma: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, 1994.
  41. ^ a b c d e Luecking, Steve. "Extensions: Neil Goodman and the Patterns of Space," Neil Goodman | Sculpture, Elgin, Illinois: Elgin Community College/Indiana University/Perimeter Gallery, 2005.
  42. ^ a b Artner, Alan G. "Skill, precision of detail energize Goodman’s work," Chicago Tribune, April 26, 1991, page 41.
  43. ^ a b Artner, Alan G. "Small bronzes a step forward for Goodman," Chicago Tribune, July 20, 1990, pages 46–7.
  44. ^ Haydon Harold. "Still life cast in bronze at Frumkin-Struve show," Chicago Sun-Times, February 12, 1982.
  45. ^ a b Tolin, Roseanne. "Making it big," The Times (Indiana), June 8, 1997, pages E1, E10.
  46. ^ The Reutlinger Community/Jewish Heritage Museum. "Jewish Heritage Museum Reopens," September 30, 2016. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  47. ^ a b c d McQuiston, Julie Pratt. "Four-sided story," Nuvo, June 2002.
  48. ^ a b Lopez, Ruth. "Neil Goodman, Perimeter Gallery," ARTnews, September 2012, page 117.
  49. ^ Hawkins, Margaret. "Gallery Glance," Chicago Sun-Times, December 26, 2003.
  50. ^ a b Skiba, Walter. "Shadows & Echoes," Northwest Indiana Times, June 23, 2006.
  51. ^ a b Bates, Geoffrey. Neil Goodman in the Park, University Park, Illinois: Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park, 2010.
  52. ^ Hawkins, Margaret. "Time Pieces: Goodman’s Abstract Shapes Intriguing to Infinity," Chicago Sun-Times, December 1, 2005.
  53. ^ Hawkins, Margaret. "Neil Goodman at Perimeter," ARTnews, May 2009.
  54. ^ Dluzen, Robin. Review, Perimeter Gallery, Chicago Art Magazine, May 2010. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  55. ^ Dluzen, Robin. "Neil Goodman: Twists and Turns," Chicago: Perimeter Gallery, 2017.
  56. ^ Vector. "Night and Day by Neil Goodman." Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  57. ^ Brauer Museum of Art. Night and Day, Valparaiso, Induana: Brauer Museum of Art, 2020. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  58. ^ Goodman, Neil. "'Twists & Turns': The Confederate Mound at Oak Woods Cemetery," New Art Examiner, October 2020. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  59. ^ Goodman, Neil. "Legacy of Decency: Rembrandt, the Jews, and the Danes," New Art Examiner, March 2020. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  60. ^ Goodman, Neil. "Kehinde Wiley, Skirball Cultural Center," New Art Examiner, 2018.
  61. ^ Goodman, Neil. "Adam Silverman at Cherry & Martin Gallery," New Art Examiner, March/April 2018.
  62. ^ Goodman, Neil. "Nine Lives: Remembering Paul Klein," New Art Examiner, 2021. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  63. ^ Goodman, Neil. "Makers & Doers" (introductory essay), in Contemporary Sculptors of Chicago: Artists behind the Sculptural Heritage of the City by Jyoti Srivastava, 2020. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  64. ^ Goodman, Neil. Night and Day, Valparaiso, Indiana: Brauer Museum of Art, 2020. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  65. ^ Cassidy, Victor. "Prairie Smoke," Artnet, April 24 2003. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  66. ^ Riverfront Recapture. "Art in the Parks," Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  67. ^ Franklin, LuAnn. "Lighting the Way” Centennial Park’s 'Prairie Passage' to be illuminated this Spring," Northwest Indiana Times, December 1, 2009. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  68. ^ Lazerus, Christin Nance. "Tapestry honors former Chancellor," Post Tribune, June 17, 2011.
  69. ^ a b Elgin Community College, Indiana University and Perimeter Gallery. Neil Goodman | Sculpture, Elgin, Illinois: Elgin Community College/Indiana University/Perimeter Gallery, 2005.
  70. ^ Illinois State Museum. "Just Good Art: The Chuck Thurow Gift," Collections. Retrieved March 25, 2020.

External links[edit]