English 12 CP Period 2
19 May 2008
Philip Guston is an abstract artist who later in his life moves onto more self-reflecting paintings (Weber 3). Guston was born on June 27, 1913 in Montreal, Canada (Aston xiii), and the youngest of seven children (Mayer 10). Before he was born, his family moved from Odessa, Russia to Montreal (Storr 11). The reason for their migration is pogroms. Pogroms are often officially encouraged massacre or persecution of a minority group, especially one conducted against Jews. This means that Guston is Jewish. “Philip’s mother and father, Rachel and Leib Goldstein” (Mayer 10), and the rest of the family moved to Los Angeles in 1919 when Guston was six (Ashton xiii). His father, also by the name of Louis Goldstein (Mayer 11), before moving worked as a machinist for the Canadian Railway (Mayer 11) but because of the cold weather in Canada, moved to California.
The Line” in 1978 with oil on canvas just two years before his death. The clouds are the first object which I took notice of. The clouds did not cover the entire top of the painting but instead it is center. They are as though a child would paint them, the puffy, round white shapes. The coloring of the clouds is grey, similar to the rain clouds. The outer clouds, which are bigger in size, are white and almost transparent. Guston believe “we teem with meaning “constantly”. “So the “WHAT” is never settled” (Storr 109). Clouds are never still, always blown by the wind carried too different areas but not to stay. They are also different in shape and size. How people look at them is also different. No two people are alike. Just looking at the clouds different people have different thoughts on its meaning or why Guston paints them because “I to puzzle over “meanings”” (Storr 108). Guston also mentions that he paint to paint and nothing else. Meaning is then lost in his artwork if he paints without a purpose or theme. Once a painter know, what he want to paint it is easier to complete.
The skin on the fingers is as wrinkled as the entire hand and shows the age of the hand and the hardship it goes through. The hand is using three fingers to paint the line, the index, middle, and thumb. The index and middle are stretched out hiding behind it the thumb. The thumb is the main finger but it is hidden, probably meaning that the things, which are being done, are not credited to the right person or objecting doing all the work. The other two fingers, the ring and pinky, are both bent at the second knuckle. The hand is a part of the body that does what he wants it to do. In the case of painting, that is not true. Philip Guston cannot paint when he wants to as he mentions the impossibility of painting, “painting seems like an impossibility, with only sign now and then of its own light” (Storr 107). The hidden thumb does not see the light because it is behind the other two. Again, Guston mentions light but where is he leading? At moments where he wants to paint and cannot, he questions what he can do (Storr 108). He compare those moments to the other two fingers that he paints. They on their own can bend at the will. He on the other hand cannot paint at will.
Ashton, Dore. A Critical Study of Philip Guston. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1976.
- Ashton, Dore chooses paintings of Philip Guston and writes about them in her perspective. Most of the work taken is during the abstraction period in his life. She then connects the paintings to points in his life when it was painted with added biography on his life. As mentioned in other books, Ashton writes to Philip Guston for the biography she is writing on him.
Auping, Michael. Philip Guston Retrospective. Fort Worth: Modern Art Museum, 2003.
- The book is used for the painting information and the collection of every single one that Guston has painted. It also shows a timeline of important events in his life. It is also used for further research in his art work from the point he starts drawing to his death.
Dabrowski, Magdalena. The Drawing of Philip Guston. New York: The Museum of Modern Art 1988.
- Dabrowski uses Guston’s abstract paintings and explains his style. The style that is mentioned is mostly of her theory. She puts together her book from taking information from other books written of Philip Guston. The most mentioned are pen and ink drawings.
Feld, Ross. Guston in Time. New York: Counterpoint, 2003.
- Feld, Ross is noted as one of the three closest friends to Guston before he died. Feld is a critic and it was how the two met. Because of a paper written on Guston speaking badly of him, Guston wrote a letter to Feld, thanking him. He gives thanks on awakening his interest. Soon after, a friendship was formed. From since, they continuously write to one another. At one time, when they lived close enough, Feld would stop by Guston’s studio and talk about art on an intellectual level.
Ibiblio.org. 2002. “WebMuseum”, Paris. 23 Apr 2008.
- This is an article explaining the works of Jackson Pollock. It talks about his life from 192, when he started to paint and ends in the late 1960’s. There are also art of his on the site. All of the work shown is abstract work as he and Guston walked the same road in art school until Guston broke off.
Kozhinou, Vadim. Russia XX Century (1901-193). http://www.hrono.ru/libris/kozhin20vek.html
- The site is an online copy of the book Russia XX Century. The book is one in four of a series. The one used is written about Russia from 1901- 1939. During the time period, there were repeated attacks on he Jewish people similar to anti-Semitism of today but is known as pogroms because it refers to more then one racial group. The information is translated by an online translator.
Mayer, Musa. Night Studio: A memoir of Philip Guston. New York: Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1988.
- Mayer, Musa is the daughter of Philip Guston who wrote about him after his death. She writes about his life and work. She starts off with her feelings of his death, and then move onto his birth and childhood. Because of her extensive details of his life before he starts to paint abstractive, it gives me more to expand on my thesis. By the end she talks of form and painting of her mother’s poetry.
Storr, Robert. Guston. New York: Abbeville Press, 1986.
- Guston by Storr, Robert starts off with an introduction about his life and continues taking the points in his life here his style changes in his painting. Where there are three main changes throughout his life. The biography on Philip Guston was very brief and in general. The details are mainly on his work.
Weber, Joanna. Philip Guston: A New Alphabet. New Haven, CT: Yale University Art Gallery, 2000.
- The book starts off with the reason of interest that the author has in Philip Guston. The style of work in his late years is towards personal feelings and thoughts. Within the paintings of his later years, objects which he painted can also be seen in his everyday life. The body, cigarettes, ceiling light, and many more are repeated images in these paintings.
Koppelman, Dorothy. “Philip Guston: The Man, His Life, and His Work.” Aesthetic Realism Foundation, New York City, Sept. 1997. http://www.aestheticrealism.org/Philip_Guston/Philip_Guston-2.html
- This article was taken from a paper written by Koppelman, Dorothy. As this and many other book sources are alike, this talks about his life in art. The connection between his life and in his art, how he applies it whether he knows that he is doing so or not. The article also talks about the different style of painting and drawing he concentrates on.
SFMOMA. “Making Sense of Modern Art: Philip Guston.” San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, 1996.http://www.sfmoma.org/guston/
- The site is a part dedicated to Philip Guston but only to one of his painting in the later years of his life. The one he titled “Self Portrait.” It explains in details part of the painting they believe has meaning. It also takes objects most common in the paintings and explains them.