Goldstein eventually became one of the linchpins of the Pictures Group, which gained its first recognition at Artist's Space in New York City in the fall of 1977. During this time, he shared a studio building with James Welling.
The Pictures artists, including Goldstein, Robert Longo, Troy Brauntuch and, initially, Phillip Smith, came to the forefront of the 1980s art boom and flourished to varying degrees as the decade wore on. Goldstein began seriously to make paintings at this time. Eventually he became known for what he referred to as "salon paintings" – those designed both to be sold to the very rich and to secure for the artist a place in art history. Although he was accused by some of "selling out" to a bull market in painting, this tactic appropriated the art star mantle that Goldstein's work always had assumed.
Goldstein began to concentrate on painting in the late 1970s.His paintings were based on photographic images of natural phenomena, science, and technology – the result of Goldstein's intent to record "the spectacular instant," as previously depicted in photography. Many of them depict streaking fighter jets, lightning storms, exploding nebulae and city skylines illuminated by fireworks or bombing raids.Using found photographs, and highlighting the reproduction or copy, Goldstein blew up details to near abstraction and then hired painters to apply them to canvases on boxlike stretchers that stand more than six inches off the wall. He was among the first contemporary painters to hire others to make his works.
As the 1980s continued and finally fizzled out there was less and less call for "salon paintings" and Goldstein's work sold less well than some others'. Reluctant to teach rather than practice full-time, Goldstein left New York in the early 1990s and returned to California where he lived out the decade in relative isolation.
His early work was revived at the turn of the century and he resurfaced briefly to some renewed acclaim. He was featured in the 2004 Whitney Biennial as a major film influence alongside Stan Brakhage, less than a year after he committed suicide by hanging himself in San Bernardino, California on March 14, 2003.
Goldstein may be remembered for a certain conceptual/representational approach to picturemaking that helped shape a generation of artists and beyond, even though they might not even be aware of him.Wikipedia