Robert Goodnough

American, 1917 - 2010

Colors on Pale Purple-Green, 1976, oil and acrylic on canvas, 36 x 47 1/2 inches

Robert Goodnough was a painter whose stylistic evolution from Cubist-inspired abstractions to Color Field canvases made him one of the least definable members of the second-generation Abstract Expressionists. In a career that lasted more than half a century, Goodnough eluded the neat categories that art critics relied on to classify the work of the Abstract Expressionists.

He moved among the second-generation members of the school but at the same time stood apart, and his work — kinetic, calligraphic dashes of primary colors in his early career, and subtle pastels beginning in the 1970s — often flirted with figuration. Allergic to self-promotion and stylistic fads, he never achieved a success commensurate with his talent, although he exhibited at the blue-chip galleries Tibor de Nagy and André Emmerich for most of his career. Instead he achieved the ambiguous fame of being known as one of the most underrated artists of his generation.

Although he never received a retrospective at a major museum, in 1969 Goodnough was given a one-man show at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo