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Carol Brown Goldberg. American Artist, born 1955

Artists use their formal and iconographic means to create metaphors that exploit the expectations of viewers. Carol Goldberg uses all media, paintings, drawings and sculpture to create her musical abstractions. Line and rich color dictate the mood in her organic narrative.

Carol Brown Goldberg, Artist, RA 054, artline
Carol Brown Goldberg
RA 054, 2011
bronze, 84 x 72"
Kreeger Museum of Art
Carol Brown Goldberg, Artist, Extravagant Eden 5, artline
Carol Brown Goldberg
Extravagant Eden 5, 2015
pen and ink, 6 x 6"
Carol Brown Goldberg, Artist, Garden Behind White Picket Fence, artline
Carol Brown Goldberg
Garden Behind White Picket Fence, 2015
acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48"
Carol Brown Goldberg, Artist, Maggie of My Mind, artline
Carol Brown Goldberg
Garden Behind White Picket Fence, 2015
acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48"
Carol Brown Goldberg, Artist, Tess, Stephan and Lucas Love Each Other, artline
Carol Brown Goldberg
Tess, Stefan and Lucas Love Each Other, 2009
acrylic on canvas, 84 x 96 x 2"
Carol Brown Goldberg, Artist, NT 7, artline
Carol Brown Goldberg
NT 7, 2015
acrylic on canvas w/particles, 84 x 96 x 2"

Artist Statement


By Jack Rasmussen

When artists make paintings, they are also constructing metaphors. Artists use their formal and iconographic means to create metaphors that exploit the expectations of viewers. Viewers expect to find sense or order (i.e. meaning) in a work of art, and artists expect them to look for it. Painting is, at its heart, a communicative act, and metaphor is its language.

The basic form of metaphor is analogy: A:B::C:D, or A is to B as C is to D. When viewers expect to understand a work of art and possess the relevant cultural knowledge artists assume they have, artists will be free to try out different values for the missing variables and arrive at their own interpretations.

We can test this hypothesis on a painting by Carol Brown Goldberg, Bertrand Russell Visits Bancroft Road, 2007 (opposite page). Carol began by taking a large (84" x 96") stretched and primed canvas and covering it completely with a pure Mars Black acrylic. Next, she divided the painting surface into quadrants and covered one quadrant at a time with glue. Before the glue could dry, Carol took iridescent, highly reflective, laser-cut particles of silver, white, and copper and scattered them across the deep, black space.

What looks so free and chaotic, when understood as part of the artist’s process, becomes purposeful and meaningful. Already, even while Carol is preparing the first layers of her background and before she has introduced iconography of any sort, we find a metaphor waiting for us. Iridescence : Stars :: Black : Space. Iridescent particles are to stars as black paint is to space. Light comes from the void. Each subsequent act in her process enriches the metaphor, expanding its potential for meaning.

Carol next glues a rectangle of very thin, textured rice paper in the middle of her black and iridescent field. The rectangular shape brings structure to the void and also creates a plane in space, perhaps like the firmament dividing heaven and earth. Then, Carol takes a loaded brush and flings thin lines of white, red, copper, and bronze acrylic enamel at the painting, her gestures creating a controlled, rhythmic chaos over the other layers… a seemingly random, isotropic field.

Finally, Carol paints a grid of circles with a mixture of metallic silver and iridescent pearl, starting at the outside edges of the canvas, the circles getting progressively lighter as they move toward the center. She leaves the center open, an area slightly larger than the rectangle formed by the rice paper.

As we physically and mentally move from layer to layer, we feel the tension between order and chaos: the formal perfection of the circle against the formless space, the rectangle locking in the center of the larger rectangle, dividing the space into layers, front to infinity.

When I asked Carol where the fascination with physics and the cosmos originated, she mentioned reading her brother’s copy of The ABC of Relativity by Bertrand Russell. The book sought to steer readers with no knowledge of mathematics or physics through Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity, gravitation, and the hydrogen bomb. This book was the beginning of Carol’s life-long affair with science, mathematics, and philosophy, making their concepts and theories the subject of, and inspiration for, her art. When questioned about her extended forays into the right side of her brain, Carol could have quoted Bertrand Russell: "Emotion that can be destroyed by a little mathematics is neither genuine nor valuable."

I used to think it was the job of the artist to impose order on the chaos around us, but watching Carol’s work evolve over the years, I now think the artist may be discovering order in what to us only appears to be chaotic. The job of the artist would seem to require equal parts faith and science. Carol Brown Goldberg possesses both these gifts, and the sensitivity and skill to construct visual metaphors suggesting our place in a beautiful and mysterious universe. (


Carol Brown Goldberg was born in Baltimore, MD. She moved to the Washington, DC metro area after graduating from University of Maryland with a B.A. in American Studies. She received a second B.A. at the Corcoran School of Art under Gene Davis, where she was awarded the Eugene M. Weisz award upon graduation. In 1989 and 1990, Goldberg produced and curated a 14-part lecture series, "Voices of Our Time," which explored the relationship between art and science. She has taught at American University and University of Maryland, was Artist in Residence at Chautauqua Institute, is the recipient of the Maryland State Arts Award, and serves on the board of The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC and on the Collector's Committee of the Reading Public Museum.

In 2012 she was featured on the cover for Art Santa Fe. During this year she participated in a panel discussion led by Fre Ilgen in Berlin, Germany, which focused on creativity and the brain. Also in 2012, she produced the award winning short film, The Color of Time. She has recently been awarded third prize for a sculpture installation scheduled for the Parque de Levante in Murcia, Spain. Her paintings and sculpture are currently on a touring exhibition,beginning at the Vero Beach Museum of Art and the Foosaner Art Museum, continuing throughout the US until 2017.

Denise Bibro Fine Art
New York, NY

Goldberg's,Paintings: The Color of Time

Goldberg's work is noted for its use of reflective chips nestled among acrylics on canvas. Mesmerizing and colorful, they are almost hypnotic in nature. Subtle yet bold in style, her work is prolific and instantly recognizable.

Goldberg draws much of her inspiration from music, light, geometric pattern, and brightness. When the Vero Beach Museum displayed her work, they described it as such..."Goldberg infuses the surfaces of her canvases with pulverized polymer to intensify her colors and give them an almost Venetian look. Unlike the work of earlier artists whose hard-edged, geometric compositions seem flat and contained, Goldberg's paintings gather energy and pull viewers into a limitless 'abstract universe'." Historian and art critic Donald Kuspit stated her art as "Musical abstractions, acknowledging, as Kandinsky did, that all art aspires to the condition of music, which is abstract and expressive at once..."


born 1955 Baltimore, MD

1976 Corcoran School of Art, Washington DC, BFA
1964 University of Maryland, College Park, MD Graduate Study
1962 University of Maryland, College Park, BA
public collections
American University, Washington, DC
Suzanne H. Arnold Gallery, Lebanon Valley College, Annville, PA
Brevard Art Center and Museum, Melbourne, FL
Deland Museum of Art, FL
Gabarrón Foundation Museum, Valladolid, Spain
George Washington University, Washington, DC
Kreeger Museum, Washington DC
Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center; Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY
Museum of Arts and Sciences, Daytona Beach, FL
Museum of the University of Central Florida, Orlando
Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC
National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
New England Contemporary Art Museum, Brooklyn, CT
New Orleans Museum of Art, LA
University of Maryland, College Park


The Washington Post
Mark Jenkins
November 28, 2014

For decades, the trend in American sculpture has been toward the big and brawny, and often the industrial. Recent showcases by the Washington Sculptors Group have illustrated an alternate path, with lots of delicate, nature-inspired work. That continues in the WSG show “Sculpture Now 2014” — at the American University Museum — which includes pieces that evoke nests, roots and branches. But that doesn’t mean all 17 participants have renounced the power of scale.

The selection is arrayed in a relatively small but two-story area that suits towering items such as Carol Brown Goldberg’s “Secret Totem,” a 10-foot-high figure in red-painted bronze whose head whimsically takes the form of an electrical socket. Garrett Strang’s spindly “Nightwatch” is almost as tall, and there’s a large painted-steel root structure by Dalya Luttwak.

Among the works that repurpose natural materials: Mike Shaffer’s cage-like assemblage of red-painted branches; Elizabeth Burger’s tumbleweed covered in yellow paper; and Lynda Smith-Bugge’s “English Ivy Cradled in Cherry,” which contrasts raw and shaped wood. Man-made products emulate nature in c.l.bigelow’s “nest #23,” encircled by copper pipe; Julie Zirlin’s “Detail, Waves,” which stacks rounds of elegantly mismatched stoneware; and Joel D’Orazio’s “Wall Urchin,” which appears biomorphic but is made of multihued plastic piping and tubing. Foon Sham’s salt-filled hickory construction is among the many pieces with a nest-like shape, but he calls it a canyon.

Goldberg’s “Secret Totem” may be the show’s most imposing entry, but the tallest is “Air Rights,” one of Greg Braun’s two wall-mounted, nearly flat pieces. Using paint, drywall and landscaping fabric, Braun challenges not nature, but painting and architecture. “Air Rights” is striped in orange, red and yellow, suggesting such post-painterly colorists as Frank Stella and Kenneth Noland. In Braun’s intriguing formulation, sculpture is something that defines space but doesn’t necessarily occupy it.
by Ellen Fischer
September 11, 2014

Curated by Jack Rasmussen, director and curator of the American University Museum in Washington, the exhibition includes 16 paintings and 20 sculptures. The way that the VBMA and the Foosaner came to share the show was serendipitous, according to FIT Director of University Galleries, Carla Funk.

Funk was interested in the “Recent Works” show because the Foosaner owns an early painting by Brown Goldberg, who is Washington-based. When the president of IA&A, David Furchgott, visited Melbourne this summer, Funk did not know that the VBMA had already engaged the show. But Furchgott had some good news. According to Funk, the sculpture part of the exhibition was available because the Vero Beach Museum of Art had allotted space to exhibit the paintings only.

“It worked out wonderfully for us,” Funk says.

The Foosaner made arrangements directly with IA&A for the exhibition of the sculptures, but Funk first checked with VBMA director Lucinda Gedeon to make sure that no conflict would arise from the two museums showing different aspects of Brown Goldberg's work.

Funk hopes to see Vero's audience at the Foosaner to experience the diversity of Brown Goldberg's oeuvre.

“We do share an audience with Vero – it’s only 45 minutes away,” Funk says.

Alongside Brown Goldberg's bronzes, created between 2001 and 2011, the Foosaner will exhibit its 1983 painting, “Bride takes a bow.” It came into the permanent collection back in the '80s when Brown Goldberg received a purchase award for it in a competitive exhibition at what was then the Brevard Art Museum.

The 48-inch-square painting is a good example of Brown Goldberg's early figural work. It owes a debt both to Matisse for its colorful portrayal of people in decoratively patterned settings and Henri Rousseau for its tangle of tropical foliage, ferns and creeping vines that threaten to overwhelm the triumphant white gowned figure at its center.

Dating from 2008 to 2013, the non-objective paintings at the VBMA couldn't be more different and yet oddly the same as the work of 35 years before. While they do not include people, plants, family celebrations or comfortable bourgeois interiors, the newer paintings share the saturated color and all-over complex patterning evident in the Foosaner museum's 1983 work.

The paintings at the VBMA also have something that “Bride takes a bow” does not: size. The largest paintings in Vero Beach measure seven feet high by eight feet wide. They show a reliance on rigorous geometric, rather than organic, patterning and sparkly glass-encrusted surfaces.

In a 2012 video, The Color of Time, narrated by the artist, Brown Goldberg calls her recent paintings “maps that shimmer with countless particles of light.” Describing her technique, she reveals that her paintings begin with a solid color – in recent years, black – over which she adheres a generous “sprinkling” of pulverized optical grade glass. After applying some free-form squirts of paint from a squeeze bottle, the artist uses a template and ruler to paint layer upon layer of geometric patterns.

Her final act is to apply dots to the composition, “letting paint drop off the brush” to form them. These proceed from each edge in orderly ranks toward the center of the work, lightening in value as they go, until they come to an abrupt stop to form a rectangular reserve at the center of the painting. The rectangular shape at the heart of each composition both discloses and frames the artist's Pollack-esque paint squirts and stenciled checker boards, circles and asterisks that seem to float above the surface of the canvas like an aura.

If the paintings' fireworks – size, sparks of prismatic light, mesmerizing patterns – do not satisfy your yearning for an aesthetic experience, the artist's written statement informs you that her paintings are universes unto themselves that bring “infinity into perspective;” and challenge “what cannot be measured. I do this to better understand notions of time, physics, aesthetics, philosophy, life, and death.”

And if that is still not enough to impress, no less a person than art critic and historian Donald Kuspit wrote a catalog essay for a 2011 exhibition of Brown Goldberg's paintings that identifies her output as “musical abstractions, acknowledging, as Kandinsky did, that all art aspires to the condition of music, which is abstract and expressive at once, as (Walter) Pater said.”

Brown Goldberg's sculptures at the Foosaner are another matter altogether. Relatively small for their heroic medium (none loom larger than 10 inches high) the bronze sculptures began as assemblages of odds and ends that include toys (her children's outgrown building blocks were the basis of her first assemblage), defunct technology such as dial telephones and roll film cameras, kitchen implements that include an espresso pot and measuring cups, and hardware store miscellanea such as electrical outlets, drawer pulls and plumbing pipe.

While the jumble of found objects used to create the assemblages might have resulted in a group of arcane abstract compositions, Brown Goldberg has also dipped into her store of found humor to make a motley assortment of whimsical personages inspired, according to the artist, by the people depicted in family photographs.

The assemblages, however, are not exhibition-ready objects; Brown Goldberg has the pieces cast in bronze and finished with a warm brown patina at a professional foundry. According to a 2011 interview of the artist for The Studio Visit, an online arts journal, only then does she think the sculptures are “precious enough” or “satisfying” as sculpture to suit her taste.

It is appropriate that the Foosaner show the sculptural aspect of Carol Brown Goldberg with her lighthearted early painting, “Bride takes a bow.” Although she crafted both that painting and the sculptures so as not to leave a jot or a tittle to chance, their fundamental playfulness manages to shine through.

The Vero Beach Museum of Art will feature the artist's large-scale paintings in its Schumann Gallery from Sept. 20, 2014, through Jan. 4, 2015. The Foosaner Art Museum of Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) in Melbourne will exhibit Carol Brown Goldberg: Recent Sculpture from Sept. 19, 2014, through Jan. 4, 2015.

information about all Goldberg reviews may be found on her website.



Carol Brown Goldberg

In conversation: Dorothy Kosinski, Carol Brown Goldberg, Fré Ilgen and Anil Revri

The Color of Time

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