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Sullivan Goss is excited to announce its third solo exhibition for JOSEPH GOLDYNE, entitled Imaginary Falls in Charcoal, Ink & Oil. Goldyne is a well regarded and widely-collected print maker, but these imaginary waterfalls are all unique works executed with neither press nor plate. Instead, the plurality of works in the exhibition represent the artist’s first efforts in charcoal presented in context with three paintings in oil and india ink.

Why charcoal? The artist himself cites the Morgan Library’s late 2019 exhibition of portraits in charcoal by John Singer Sargent, who turned away from oil painting towards charcoal as the medium of choice for his highly-coveted portraits in 1907, when Sargent was fifty-one years old. Joseph was seduced by the medium’s potential in the works on display. He writes, “There, in 50 portraits of friends and talents, he provided evidence of what a great gift can make of light and shadow; for aside from having an uncanny sensitivity to just where a line should land and what a line should describe, Sargent summoned what I call graphic ‘weather’ to [help him capture] his subjects. It was this ’weather’ in the form of darks and lights, not mere shading or modeling, but often a churning brew of strokes and erasures (he used little knotted bits of bread as erasers) to bring his heads into brilliant identity.” Joseph decided to try his hand.

This new suite of drawings covers a wide array of compositional approaches to the artist’s ongoing exploration of waterfalls. Over the artist’s fifty-year career, he has invested himself in a quite diverse mixture of themes and images, but almost always with a focus on the surface effects of his chosen media and a free-wheeling engagement with the art of the past. For at least the past fourteen years, however, he has been absorbed by his imaginary waterfalls. 

In one work, chiaroscuro effects power a shower of white light inside a dimly-lit cavern of the artist’s imagination. Other works use faint shading to suggest the vapors, sprays, and mists of a landscape carved by a powerful waterfall. Still others tiptoe into abstraction. All are imagined. Notes the artist, “I can assure you that I shall never need to see a waterfall to draw one.”

To contextualize these new works on paper, a pair of tall and slender paintings measuring six feet by eighteen inches will bookend the show. With drawing and watercolor-like effects achieved by india ink colored with oil washes on the fine weave of a Belgian portrait linen, these new paintings will probably be more familiar to regular watchers of the gallery’s program. These larger works are inspired by both Japanese scroll paintings and the “zip” abstractions of Barnett Newman. These heroically-scaled falls use their strong verticality to convey the sense of immensity and power that Edmund Burke defined as “sublime” in his 1757 treatise A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful.

JOSEPH GOLDYNE’s exhibition will be shown in tandem by a complimentary solo exhibition for NATALIE ARNOLDI. Hovering between abstraction and masterful realism, both artists have created bodies of work that blur aesthetic categories while remaining conscientiously engaged with the Romantic landscape tradition in American art. 


JOSEPH GOLDYNE (b. 1942) earned a BA in Art History from UC Berkeley before completing his MD at UC San Francisco and his MA at Harvard University. He has devoted himself to the art world since his twenties, painting exhibitions for galleries like Braunstein Quay and John Berggruen and advising the Fine Arts Museums Collections Committee for over 30 years. Joseph’s work is held in the permanent collections of institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Minneapolis Institute of Fine Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, among many others. A catalogue raisonné of his print works was published by the Corcoran Museum in 2004 and another catalogue raisonné of artist books, portfolios, and calligraphic sheets was published by Stanford University Press in 2015.

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