Much like LeRoy Neiman, Michael Godard is a critically-maligned, commercially successful painter with a penchant for the bright and bold. Godard was born on October 3, 1960 in Southern California. His family moved often and by the time his childhood was over, he had attended sixteen different schools. However, he knew he wanted to be a painter and nothing was going to discourage him. He attended the University of Nevada in Las Vegas and the Art Center College of Design in Pasedena and held a wide variety of jobs before he moved into fine art as a career. Godard’s trademark olive came to life while he was camped in the hospital for months as his daughter suffered with brain cancer. The personified, bright green olives popped off the inky black background and set the groundwork for his rise in the art world.
Today, Michael Godard’s paintings are easily identified. They almost always feature a vice of some sort- wine, champagne, martinis, gambling, money, smoking, and of course his friend olives, grapes, and strawberries. Not only does he sell limited edition fine art prints, but he also licenses his work for other collectibles such as pinball machines and bar decorations. He has documented his life so far in the autobiographical “Don’t Drink and Draw”, which was awarded art book of the year. His pieces hang on walls around the world, from Princess Cruise Line ships to the officer’s lounge at the Pentagon.
His style, subject matter, and flamboyant personality have not made him many friends in the fine art community, but that seems to be a stigma he enjoys. Godard and his wife Elly continue to reside in Las Vegas. He has appeared on countless television programs in the last decade, has contributed cover art for rock band albums, started a charity in his daughter’s honor, and continues to churn out new paintings on a regular basis. Whether or not you agree with his own claim that he is the number one selling artist in the US, it is undeniable that his art continues to be exceptionally popular.