Thursday, July 25, 2019

Prints of True Americana: The Work of Ralph Goings

Ralph Goings (1928–2016) was an influential artist and teacher associated with the American Photorealism movement of the 1960s and 1970s. He was best known for his highly detailed images of diners, ketchup bottles, and salt & pepper shakers and pick-up trucks.

Born in Corning, California, Goings grew up during the Great Depression. His first exposure to art was in high-school, and he was inspired by the work of Rembrandt from books in the local library. His aunt encouraged his artistic interests and he began painting using paint from the local hardware store and old bed sheets.

After he served in the Army, Goings briefly enrolled in Hartnell College, and was quickly encouraged to attend art school. He studied art at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, and while there, he met other artists like Robert Bechtle and Nathan Oliveira. He received his MFA from Sacramento State College. Later on, he taught art in Crescent City, and was the head of the Art department at La Sierra High School in Sacramento.

He was inspired by the realistic artwork of Wayne Thiebaud and Thomas Eakins. With artists like Robert Bechtle, Robert Cottingham, Audrey Flack, Don Eddy and Richard Estes, Goings helped establish the Photorealist Movement.

"It occurred to me that projecting and tracing the photograph instead of copying it freehand would be even more shocking. To copy a photograph literally was considered a bad thing to do. It went against all of my art school training... " (edited quote from Realists at Work)

In the mid 1970's, Goings and his family relocated from Sacramento to upstate New York so he could be close to, but not in, the New York City art scene. He enjoyed a long relationship with OK Harris Gallery. In 2006, he and his wife chose to permanently relocate to Santa Cruz.

Remembered as a highly skilled artist, Goings’ work portrayed everyday objects with such a purposeful and distinct realism that their extreme details amazed and fooled the eyes of his audience. His prints compare very favorably with his other media. They are a marvel to behold with their rich surfaces, and numerous reflections. His compositions are intimate and tightly woven. The ketchup bottle and sugar dispenser images are as one would naturally experience them in a restaurant, or a roadside diner. They are cool, clean objects neatly lined up on the countertop, accessible and always ready to pick up.

Going’s affinity for the everyday subject was a step up from pop art that preceded his work. He left out the novelty and Americana glam that one finds in a Warhol or a Lichtenstein. His was a down to earth, real version of American culture. His work reflected an aura of honesty and no-nonsense unmatched in his colleagues’ work. Goings was a true American artist.

MFA - 1965 Sacramento State College, Sacramento, CA
BFA - 1953 California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, CA

Public Collections
Benedictine University, Lisle, IL
Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL
Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, MI
H.J. Heinz Company, Pittsburgh, PA
Lucasfilm, San Anselmo, CA
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Portland Museum of Art, Portland, OR
Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Sheldon Art Museum, Lincoln, NE
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, FL
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT

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