Born in New York City, Michael Goldberg attended the Art Students League and the City College of New York. In 1941 he began to study with Hans Hofmann, returning to his school from 1948 to 1951, where he also studied with sculptor José de Creeft, whose collage techniques were to influence Goldberg's paintings. During the early fifties Goldberg met poet-critic Frank O'Hara, painters Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, and other members of the Eighth Street Club, at the time a hotbed of artistic innovation. Goldberg became one of the first younger artists to join the group, showing his work in the landmark "Ninth Street Exhibition" in 1951.
Having made his reputation as one of the junior members of the New York School with relatively austere nonobjective paintings, Goldberg subsequently proceeded to incorporate brighter and brighter colors into his work. Metallic paints and collage-like cutouts lent brilliance and a certain architectural quality to his canvases and drawings. Critics have remarked on the luminous, lyrical quality of Goldberg's work, describing him as presenting a "lyrical and nostalgic image of the painter as poet."
National Museum of American Art (CD-ROM) (New York and Washington D.C.: MacMillan Digital in cooperation with the National Museum of American Art, 1996)
As a teenager, Michael Goldberg learned to draw from plaster casts at the Art Students League in New York City. He continued his studies under Hans Hofmann before joining the army at the age of seventeen. After a tour of duty in Asia during World War II, Goldberg returned to Hofmann's school and began to delve into abstract expressionism. In the early 1950s he met members of the Eighth Street Club, including the poet-critic Frank O'Hara and the painters Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, and Joan Mitchell. The Eighth Street Club was an informal discussion group founded by downtown New York City artists that met regularly to share ideas about art, philosophy, and writing. Goldberg experimented with different media and materials throughout his career, but he always returned to oil paint brushes, which allowed him to experience what he described as "the physicality of painting." (Ellen Lee Klein, "All Kinds of Rational Questions: An Interview with Michael Goldberg," Arts Magazine, February 1985)