This is probably the ideal way to view the new Jack Goldstein exhibit at The Jewish Museum in New York — on a nearly silent morning when the only sounds to be heard are those of a whirring projector and the eerie, ethereal soundtracks the artist himself created. The gallery halls are empty save for one security guard and, of course, the art.
Today, the museum is hosting a press opening for “Jack Goldstein x 10,000,” which was first shown at the Orange County Museum of Art. But at this particular, wondrous moment, everyone else is upstairs enjoying the complimentary bagel breakfast and awaiting opening remarks from the exhibit’s curator, Philipp Kaiser, and the Jewish Museum’s director, Claudia Gould.
For this writer, who grew up fantasizing about being Jamie or Claudia Kincaid camping out at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in E.L. Konigsburg’s “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, in which two kids have the museum to themselves overnight, these conditions would be ideal for seeing any exhibit.
But the solitude is particularly appropriate for viewing the work of Goldstein, an artist who seemed to spend a good portion of his entire career attempting to disappear, never signing his artwork, finally performing the ultimate disappearing act in 2003 at the age of 57 when he committed suicide by hanging himself at his home in San Bernardino, Calif. He had reportedly struggled with drugs and depression.
Near the start of the exhibit, a neon-orange Lite-Brite diver in the artist’s 1978 short film “The Jump” appears to provide an apt metaphor for Goldstein’s career — an anonymous figure shimmering and twirling for a few brief moments before disappearing into blackness.
The name of the exhibit itself, “Jack Goldstein x 10,000,” focuses one’s attention on the mutability and ultimate insignificance of identity — no, there’s not just one Jack Goldstein; he was one of thousands.
Part of the so-called Pictures Generation, a group that comprised such artists as Robert Longo, David Salle and Cindy Sherman, Goldstein was born in Montreal to a Jewish family who later moved to Los Angeles.