Skip to Content

Art Gallery of Ontario

Keyword Site Search

Art Matters Blog

Work in Progress: Getting to know Betty Goodwin

August 13th, 2010

I introduced you to some of the reading and research I have been doing on the life and art of Eva Hesse, and this week I ‘d like to do the same for Betty Goodwin. Goodwin is one of Canada’s most acclaimed artists of this past century, and for good reason. In her five decade long career, she worked and experimented with a variety of media (drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture) with remarkable determination and dedication.

Born in Montreal in 1923, Betty Goodwin had a talent and passion for art at a young age. Her early work consisted of still life and landscapes paintings, but in the sixties she focused more on portraits and figures. However, one of the major developments in her career came in the late sixties when she began to study etching, and eventually created her own innovation on the etching process. This resulted in some of her most well-known works, namely her ‘vest’ series.

Goodwin is known for creating series of works that have recurring images and motifs, and in At Work, you will get to see the process of how she developed and reworked these ideas and themes through the juxtaposition of her notebooks with her finished pieces. Both the themes and images Goodwin used in her work, and the fact that they are continually reiterated, suggest a focus on ideas of memorialization and mourning. Goodwin herself wrote that “there is something else, something more remote than the memory of objects, that I wish to attain. I mean a record of feelings and sensations. Everybody has histories of this kind, whether they know it or not. But I don’t want to relate my history through words.”

If you’re interested in finding out a bit more about Betty Goodwin, I would recommend taking a look at this catalogue.

Kendra Ainsworth is a Masters student in Museum Studies at the University of Toronto, and an Interpretive Planning intern at the AGO.