At a time when the world is facing unprecedented unrest, few artists address grief and mourning as powerfully as Betty Goodwin (1923–2008). One of the giants of contemporary art in Canada, she emerged as a singular talent in the 1970s. Born in Montreal, where she remained a dominant artistic presence over a six-decades-long career, Goodwin was nurtured in the post-war years by a group of Jewish painters committed to social justice. By the 1960s, she was searching for a more personal artistic voice. Always attuned to the ills of the world, she went on to create a prolific body of work encompassing painting, sculpture, drawing, and printmaking.


In Betty Goodwin: Life & Work, author Jessica Bradley tells the story of this visionary creator’s remarkable career, highlighting how, in 1968, Goodwin began putting pieces of clothing through a printing press. Her resulting Vest series—now celebrated as one of the major breakthroughs in contemporary printmaking—resonated with Goodwin’s early loss of her father, a vest maker. Achievements that followed included critical acclaim for her contribution to the art of drawing, participation in the Venice Biennale in 1995, and receipt of a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts and the Order of Canada in 2003.


“Largely self-taught, in mid-life Goodwin found her artistic voice through her iconic prints of vests. The installations, sculptures, and drawings that followed established her as one of Canada’s most celebrated artists. Never abandoning her commitment to figurative work in which the body became a metaphor for memory, mourning, and the fragility of life, she continually reinvented her expression of the human condition.”JESSICA BRADLEY


Despite being the subject of numerous solo exhibitions during and after her lifetime, Betty Goodwin: Life & Work is the first comprehensive English-language overview of the artist’s career since her death.


About the author

Jessica Bradley is a distinguished art historian, curator, and former gallerist who has published extensively and spearheaded numerous exhibitions in some of Canada’s leading institutions. She served as Curator of Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario (1995–2004), Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Canada (1980–87) and was commissioner for Canada’s representation at the Venice Biennale on three occasions. From 2005 to 2015, she directed her own commercial gallery in Toronto, creating over eighty exhibitions featuring an emerging generation of artists.

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