Barbara Goodstein, sculptor, died December 5 at the age of 70, after a yearlong illness. She was a Bowery Gallery artist for over three decades, during which she regularly mounted solo exhibitions of her new work in relief sculpture and sculpture in the round.
Goodstein studied sculpture in Mexico and England, and in the United States, where she attended the New York Studio School and received an MFA from Queens College (CUNY). Among the artist-mentors whom she knew and were significant for her were the sculptor Peter Agostini and the painters Gabriel Laderman and Leland Bell. But her interest in art was wide-ranging and eclectic, and extended, in the visual, to the arts of Africa and Asia; to architecture, particularly in indigenous forms, and to painting, both figurative and abstract. She shared her enthusiasms with sculpture students, to whom she was dedicated; she taught at various art schools including PAFA, Tyler, and Chautauqua; and she encouraged her contemporaries by buying work from their shows for her own collection. With some modern-dance training, Goodstein was at times almost as absorbed in dance as in painting and sculpture, and her love of dance in various modes informed her sculpture.
Goodstein made relief sculpture in the painting genres of landscape, still life, and figure. For many years, she worked in plaster on board, a technique she invented—called a “unique medium” by the critic Lance Esplund—and which related her reliefs closely to painting and drawing. Her sculptural figures in the round were made of clay, and in the past few years she created high reliefs in fired clay.
Goodstein’s work attracted critical attention in such publications as The New Republic, The New York Times, Art in America, and the New York Review of Books, and is illustrated in two books. An artist who continued throughout her life to develop her ideas and motifs, she was called, by the critic Jed Perl, “the most original sculptor of her generation.”