Marian Goodman’s passion for art is perhaps genetic. Her father loved art, and he collected the work of modernist painter Milton Avery. Her work in art was put on the back burner when she married William Goodman and had two children with him. In 1962, she helped to organize an art show for her children’s school. Her interest was revived when she went to Columbia University to receive her Ph.D. in art history, where she studied pre-Colombian and African cultures.
In 1965, Marian Goodman helped found Multiples, Inc. The company printed images of different artists’ works, including works by Sol LeWitt, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol. During this time pop art was incredibly popular, and she capitalized on people’s interest in it. The money she received from Multiples, Inc. helped her to establish a gallery.
The Marian Goodman Gallery opened its doors in 1977. Located in the Upper West Side, the gallery was central to Goodman’s New York City lifestyle, as she was raised in the neighborhood. In the 1980s, galleries began to move downtown to Chelsea and SoHo, but Goodman did not move. Instead of following other directors, she pursued her own path and continued the great work she had begun in her beloved neighborhood.
Goodman is revolutionary in part because she rose to prominence in the art world at a time when there were few females in similar positions. She was truly extraordinary in this respect.
She is also groundbreaking because she brought European art to the U.S. at a time when this was not common. When she first opened her gallery’s doors, New Yorkers were used to seeing art from New Yorkers. In fact, in those days it was not even common to see art from across the country. Goodman’s decision to import art from Europe helped introduce the public to foreign art. New Yorkers were awed by the art that allowed them to look beyond the scope of their own city.
Her clients appreciate her for her personal approach. Goodman travels to see her artists and their works, whether she travels across the U.S. or the globe. She does not micromanage, but rather allows her artists great maneuverability. She takes her time when approaching and signing with new artists, thus ensuring their potential to work together. This has certainly contributed to the number of loyal clients she has.
Some of her clients include: Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Giovanni Anselmo, Lothar Baumgarten, Christian Boltanski, Amar Kanwar, Steve McQueen, Annette Messager, Maria Nordman, Thomas Struth, and Danh Vo.
Currently in New York, the Marian Goodman Gallery is exhibiting Two Suns, an exhibit by Argentine artist Adrián Villar Rojas, from September 9, 2015 to October 10, 2015. One room of the exhibit appears empty, but the artwork is on the floor. Tiles, created from many different materials, are arranged to create an intriguing and intricate pattern. In the other room, the tiles continue. The main feature there, however, is a giant statue of a sleeping nude man. When the visitor enters the room and sees the statue’s back, it is as if he is interrupting the statue as he sleeps. Walking to the front of the statue creates a sense of intimacy and connection. Voyeuristically, the viewer looks at the statue’s face, but the sleeping man does not look back.
From October 20, 2015 to December 19, 2015, the Marian Goodman Gallery will be exhibiting Jeff Wall, featuring Canadian artist Jeff Wall and his profound photography.
Marian Goodman embodies the dynamic spirit of New York’s art world, and is a gallery owner worthy of interest and admiration.
By Sean Scarisbrick
Sean is a graduate student at Hunter College where he studies Middle Eastern history. He is particularly interested in cultural history and language’s contribution to culture. He loves Shakespeare, Malala Yousafzai, Game of Thrones, foreign languages (Arabic, Spanish, and French), and Arabic street art.