A Narrative Bio

A Death of Socrates Head with Two Luncheons on the Grass Acrylic on Canvas 2000

John Goodyear was born in Los Angeles, CA. His earliest memory of life is of an earthquake, which devastated southern California. Almost a decade later, after the death of his father, the family moved to Grosse Ile, MI the home of his maternal grandparents. Having won a full tuition scholarship, he studied art at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. At school he met and married Anne Dixon. He graduated with a Master of Design degree and was immediately drafted into the U.S. Army. Two years of service in Japan, where his wife joined him, was to have an important impact on his work. Influences from Japanese architecture and Zen Buddhism led to the sparse ambiguity that characterizes most of his work thereafter.

The same influences and the experience of painting his house led to a switch to 3-D painting. After teaching at the University of Michigan in Grand Rapids, a grant from the Graham Foundation took him to the University of Massachusetts. During two years teaching there he prepared work for the grant, which became his first solo show in New York City in 1964. Two other shows followed in New York and led to his inclusion in over fifty group shows nationwide that dealt with light and movement.

At the time of his first NYC show he was invited to join the Visual Arts faculty at Douglass College, teaching there and at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University for thirty-three years. He replaced Roy Lichtenstein who had just resigned. During the seventies he received a fellowship to work under Gyorgy Kepes at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies while he was working on sculptures that featured inner heating. One of these was shown at the Whitney Annual. From MIT he also launched a series of shows, which encircled the world globe. Six works relating to this “Earth Curve” series were shown at the Museum of Modern Art in 1972.

Residual affects of the MIT experience may have led to his involvement during the eighties in public sculpture. During that decade he completed six major public sculptures including one for IBM at Triangle Park, NC and another for the State House in Trenton, NJ, five marble reliefs. The “Negative Figure” series emerged from the public sculpture and were shown in a number of group and solo shows. While planning one of the public works, he taught at Cergy-Pontoise outside Paris as a visiting artist.

He retired from Rutgers in 1997 and devoted time to working on a retrospective at the Michener Museum in Bucks County. (A 52 page catalog is available from them.) At the same time he and his wife served as co-curators of “Dada Country” at the Hunterdon Museum of Art near their home in New Jersey. Another curating job for “Iron Works,” features artists who did works relating to ironing, including Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp. The show at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia was held in 2003.

Goodyear’s works are included in the Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC as well as fifty other public collections worldwide including England, France, Greece, Italy and Switzerland.