Billy Roses’ Dandelion, 1960
Oil on Canvas. 76.5 x 75 inches
Michael Goldberg (1924 – 2007) created this painting in 1960. It is signed and dated on the reverse, and has the seemingly enigmatic title Billy Roses’ Dandelion.
Michael Goldberg was a close friend of the poet Frank O’Hara (1926‑1966) and O’Hara wrote poems about Goldberg’s art. While he did not accept the label, Michael Goldberg was considered a Second Generation Abstract Expressionist, along with such artists as Norman Bluhm, Grace Hartigan, and Joan Mitchell. Frank O’Hara wrote the poem Why I am Not a Poet about the creation of the Goldberg painting Sardines, now in the collection of the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. For the answer to questions you have thought of, as well as those you have never dreamt of about Michael Goldberg and Frank O’Hara, click on the link at the end of this article.
Although he inherited Rothko’s New York Studio in 1962, Goldberg had more in common artistically with Franz Kline and Barnett Newman than Rothko. He knew and admired Jackson Pollack.
In an interview with Saul Ostrow for BOMB Magazine Goldberg commented: “I’ve always felt that art comes out of art. It doesn’t spring from Zeus’s forehead. Art requires looking, and a little bit of selective thievery, too. You take a little bit from here and a little from there without being conscious of it.”
Although, at first glance the painting appears as complete abstraction, on close examination recognizable images begin to emerge. At the bottom right, a couple appears to be seated at a cafe table drinking wine, while across the top of the painting an angel flies overhead delineated in bold brush strokes, spanning the canvas. Goldberg illustrates his point concerning “selective thievery” by incorporating in this work of almost pure abstraction, a tongue in cheek homage to 20th century art.