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Artists Philip Guston
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Philip Guston

American Painter

Movement: Abstract Expressionism

Born: June 27, 1913 - Montreal, Canada

Died: June 7, 1980 - Woodstock, New York

Philip Guston Timeline

Quotes

"The desire for direct expression finally became so strong that even the interval to reach back to the palette beside me became too long; so one day I put up a large canvas and placed the palette in front of me. Then I forced myself to paint the entire work without stepping back to look at it. I remember that I painted this in an hour."
Philip Guston
"In my experience a painting is not made with colors and paint at all. I don't know what a painting is; who knows what sets off even the desire to paint?"
Philip Guston
"Painting is an illusion, a piece of magic, so what you see is not what you see."
Philip Guston
"To paint is a possessing rather than a picturing."
Philip Guston

"Painting and sculpture are very archaic forms. It's the only thing left in our industrial society where an individual alone can make something with not just his own hands, but brains, imagination, heart maybe."

Philip Guston Signature

Synopsis

In a career of constant struggle and evolution, Philip Guston emerged first in the 1930s as a social realist painter of murals in the 1930s. Much later he also evolved a unique and highly influential style of cartoon realism. But he made his name as an Abstract Expressionist. He avoided the muscular gestures of painters such as Pollock and Kline, and opted for a lighter touch, painting shimmering abstractions in which forms seem to hover like mists in the foreground.

Key Ideas

Guston's early career followed a pattern similar to that of many of his peers in Abstract Expressionism. He became interested in mural painting, and created fantastic scenes populated often by monumental, struggling figures. Although his early style was influenced in part by Italian Renaissance art, his backdrops invariably allude to contemporary cities and worldly conflicts.
Guston was drawn towards Abstract Expressionism when he settled in New York in the late 1940s. There he evolved an abstract art characterized by warm clouds of red hatch-marks floating over formless white mists.
The upheavals of 1960s made Guston increasingly uncomfortable with abstract painting, and his work eventually developed into the highly original cartoon-styled realism for which he is now best known. This took him back to his early years - to the style of the comics he loved as a boy, and to the imagery of hooded Klansmen that he first explored in the 1930s. Occasionally, Guston seems to identify with the Klansmen, but at other times his dark cartoons resemble fearful urban worlds of racism and violence.

Biography

Philip Guston Photo

Childhood

Philip Guston was born Philip Goldstein, in Montreal, Canada, in 1913. He was the youngest of seven children born to a Jewish couple who had come to America after fleeing the pogroms in Russia. America seemed to offer shelter from persecution, yet the family found life difficult in their new country. Guston's father had been a saloon keeper, but he struggled to find work; in 1919 the family moved to Los Angeles with hopes of better fortunes, but they only encountered more hardship and also met with the racism that surrounded the growth of the Klu Klux Klan in the period. Around four years later, his father committed suicide by hanging and Guston discovered the body, an experience which profoundly marked him. As he moved into adolescence, Philip retreated in the fantasy world of comics, and started to become interested in drawing, which led his mother to enroll him in a correspondence course at the Cleveland School of Cartooning, thus beginning his training as an artist.

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Philip Guston Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Philip Guston
Interactive chart with Philip Guston's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
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Personal Contacts

Jackson PollockJackson Pollock
Willem de KooningWillem de Kooning
Arshile GorkyArshile Gorky
John CageJohn Cage
Morton FeldmanMorton Feldman

Movements

RenaissanceRenaissance
ImpressionismImpressionism
Mexican MuralismMexican Muralism
CubismCubism
SurrealismSurrealism

Influences on Artist
Philip Guston
Philip Guston
Years Worked: 1927 - 1980
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Jackson PollockJackson Pollock
Jasper JohnsJasper Johns
Robert RauschenbergRobert Rauschenberg
David SalleDavid Salle

Personal Contacts

Harold RosenbergHarold Rosenberg

Movements

Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
Pop ArtPop Art
New Image PaintingNew Image Painting

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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

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