He’s best known for his highly detailed paintings of diners, pick-up trucks, and California banks, portrayed in a deliberately objective manner and bathed in SoCal sunshine. I rather like his still-lifes best – he seems to have made the humble ketchup bottle an iconic image and so I’m featuring quite a few of those here.
He’s been painting them for four decades now, though his more recent works are less photorealist, looser and more textural – the last painting shown here (below) of a cake, is more reminiscent of Wayne Thiebaud’s work (see earlier post) than Goings’ own oeuvre.
Ralph Goings: "In 1963 I wanted to start painting again but I decided I wasn't going to do abstract pictures. It occurred to me that I should go as far to the opposite as I could. ... It occurred to me that projecting and tracing the photograph instead of copying it freehand would be even more shocking. To copy a photograph literally was considered a bad thing to do. It went against all of my art school training... some people were upset by what I was doing and said 'it's not art it can't possibly be art'. That gave me encouragement in a perverse way, because I was delighted to be doing something that was really upsetting people... I was having a hell of a lot of fun..."
"My paintings are about light, about the way things look in their environment and especially about how things look painted.
Form, colour and space are at the whim of reality, their discovery and organization is the assignment of the realist painter."