The Artist Birthday Series

Ralph Goings

Today’s Artist Birthday: Ralph Goings

Ralph Goings (b. May 9, 1928) is an American painter closely associated with the Photorealism movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. He is best known for his highly detailed paintings of hamburger stands, pick-up trucks, and California banks, portrayed in a deliberately objective manner.

ralph goings portrait photo
Portrait of Ralph Goings, c. 1980  (photo by Doug Edmunds)

He was born to a working-class family in Corning, California and grew up during the great depression. During his freshman year of high school, he became exposed to art and painting in an art class and was inspired by his discovery of Rembrandt at his local library. While growing up, he was encouraged by his aunt to pursue drawing, as she bought him books and instructional materials. As he began painting in his earlier years, he used materials such as paint from the local hardware store and used old bed sheets when canvas was unavailable.

american salad 1966 goings
“American Salad,” Ralph Goings, 1966

After he served in the military, he enrolled in Hartnell College, in Salinas, California and was approached and encouraged to attend art school by Leon Amyx, who was the head of the art department at Hartnell at that time and a well-known painter.

double ketchup goings
“Double Ketchup,” by Ralph Goings, 2006

Goings studied art at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. During his studies at California College of the Arts, he studied along other painters from the Photo Realist Movement including Robert Bechtle and Richard Mclean as well as other artists including Nathan Oliveira.

airstream goings 1970
“Airstream,” by Ralph Goings, 1970

He received his MFA in painting from Sacramento State College in 1965. Since that time, his work was inspired by artists such as Wayne Thiebaud, Johannes Vermeer, Thomas Eakins.

peppers 1981 goings
“Still Life With Peppers,” by Ralph Goings, 1981

His interest in Photorealism sparked after being thoroughly disappointed with the quality of the pop art imagery at the time, he felt that if something was to represent an object then why not make it resemble a photograph as closely as possible.

cushion goings 1970 art
“Paul’s Corner Cusion,” by Ralph Goings, 1970

Goings is a pioneer in the Photo Realist Movement. His work is in many prominent art galleries including Museum of Modern Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Museum of Contemporary Art.

diner goings
“Diner,” by Ralph Goings, 1981

Says Goings: “In 1963 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…”

donut goings 1995
“Donut,” by Ralph Goings, 1995

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