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Subject: Jack Goldstein, Who Helped to Explore Post-Modernist Art

March 14
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Date Posted: March 24, 2003 2:05:25 EDT

Jack Goldstein, an artist whose performances, short films, paintings and sound pieces of the late 1970's and early 80's helped define the early stages of post-modernist art, died on Friday at his home in San Bernardino, Calif.

Mr. Goldstein, who had struggled for many years to overcome drug dependency and chronic depression, committed suicide, said Brian Butler, a Los Angeles art dealer who represented him. He was 57.

For a while, Mr. Goldstein, who was born in Montreal in 1945 and moved with his family to Los Angeles when he was a teenager, was a leading member of a generation intrigued by the power and mechanisms of representation in mass culture.

He earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from the Chouinard Art Institute in 1970 and a master's degree at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, Calif., in 1972. There, as a teaching assistant to the conceptual artist John Baldessari, he met a group of slightly younger artists, including Matt Mullican, David Salle, James Welling and Troy Brauntuch, who were gravitating toward appropriated images. Along with artists like Cindy Sherman, Laurie Simmons, Sherrie Levine, Sarah Charlesworth and Robert Longo, who were exploring similar ideas in New York, they were often gathered under the rubric Pictures Art.

Inspired by Andy Warhol and Ed Ruscha, Mr. Goldstein was one of the first artists to explore the phantasmagoric beauty and empty spectacle of the movies by isolating their tics and conventions.

On film, he showed the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lion growling into infinity; in performance, he had two white-clad fencers cross swords in a red-tinged light. His 45-r.p.m. records, culled from movie soundtracks had titles like "Two Wrestling Cats," the "Six-Minute Drown," or the "Lost Ocean Liner."

His paintings, which fine-tuned Photo Realism to a celluloid-thin elegance, featured panoramic displays of might and light, the essence of film. These dark, glowing images depicted streaking fighter jets, lightning storms, exploding nebulae and city skylines illuminated by fireworks or bombing raids.

Mr. Goldstein moved to New York in 1974 and had his first solo show there in 1980 at Metro Pictures Gallery. He returned to Los Angeles in the late 1980's and spent most of the 1990's out of sight. But over the last few years he enjoyed a new visibility. Last year his films, which were recently transferred to video, were shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

A retrospective of his work was held at the National Center of Contemporary Art in Grenoble, France, and other European exhibitions were planned. He was working on some new films and planning a show of paintings at Mr. Butler's gallery. And "Jack Goldstein and the Cal Arts Mafia," an oral history edited by Mr. Goldstein and Richard Hertz, who will publish it.

Mr. Goldstein is survived by his parents, Meyer and Ellen Goldstein, and his sister, Linda Goldstein, all of San Bernardino.

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