Monday, May 26, 2008

A Final Wish: To the Class of 2008

Bob Dylan & The Band "Forever Young" (live 1976)

  • May God bless and keep you always,
  • May your wishes all come true,
  • May you always do for others
  • And let others do for you.
  • May you build a ladder to the stars
  • And climb on every rung,
  • May you stay forever young,
  • May you grow up to be righteous,
  • May you grow up to be true,
  • May you always know the truth
  • And see the lights surrounding you.
  • May you always be courageous,
  • Stand upright and be strong,
  • May you stay forever young,
  • May your hands always be busy,
  • May your feet always be swift,
  • May you have a strong foundation
  • When the winds of changes shift.
  • May your heart always be joyful,
  • May your song always be sung,
  • May you stay forever young,

(An impossible wish--I know--but the sentiment remains....)
Thanks for a great year (and the many memories.)

Keep in touch, Mr. G

Saturday, May 24, 2008







"Jazzy J"






Hau In S
Mr. G
English 12, CP Period 1
19 May 2008

Sandy Skoglund is a contemporary artist who most famous in her photographs and sculptures. Skoglund was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, on September 11, 1946. Her father, Walter, ran the family gas station and garage. Her mother, Dorothy, was a nurse. When Sandy was three, she became ill with polio, a virus that destroys nerve passages between the brain and muscles of the body. The disease paralyzed her left shoulder and weakened her left arm so much that she had to adapt from being left-handed to using her right hand. When she was eight, her father began for Shell Oil Company. Each time he was promoted, the family moved − from Massachusetts to Maine to Connecticut to South California (Wolf 38-39).

Skoglund discovered her interest in art and art history while attending Smith College (Wolf 39). A year after she graduated from Smith College, she went to the University of Iowa. That was a 3-year Master of Fine Arts program. She got her degree in painting in 1972 but she did everything. She made films; she could intersect with other departments: philosophy, multi-media (Masters par. 10). Skoglund moved to New York in June of 1972, where she started working as a conceptual artist, dealing with repetitive, process-oriented art production (Skoglund The Association of Art Galleries in Switzerland par. 2).

Skoglund first began photographing in 1978 using her husband’s, Al Baccili, camera to photograph still lifes she had arranged from objects in the house trailer where she and Al lived. She liked how the camera made the objects appear real in a way a painting or drawing never could (Wolf 40). She never actually studied photography formally at all, never took a single course in it (Masters par. 10). She then started to created scenes in front of the camera using her other art skills, like sculptures and drawings, which she was more familiar with. She says that she was not confident in making a large scale installation at first. She had thrown out 3 or 4 of the sculpted cats that she did not like into the trash on a sidewalk in New York. People took them out of the trash and then later she noticed someone put them up their windows. This is a firm for her that she was on the right path of making things and the process of making things started to build on itself (Skoglund “Lecture”). She went as far as bringing make-believe to life on film (Wolf 40). She makes many well-known photographs in installation art later on, like “Radioactive Cats” (1980), “Revenge of the Goldfish” (1981), and “Fox Games” (1989).

In Sandy Skoglund’s artworks, there is always a pattern over the real world image, like the “Radioactive Cats” and “Revenge of the Goldfish”, which may cause by her unique perception of the world due to her experience of polio. She was ill with polio when she was three which made her become a bit handicapped. The injury was not obvious, but Skoglund knew it was there and made her view herself different from the others (Wolf 39). This feeling changes her view of the world and even being unsatisfied with it. Her different interpretation of the world makes her photographs look different from the reality. According to the Autobiography of Surrealism edited by Jean, “Surrealism opens the doors of the dream to all those for whom night is miserly” (134) and Sigmund Freud says that dream is actually a wish-fulfillment (Brill 208), this implies that Sandy is not satisfied with the real world and fulfill her wish in the artwork. These make her to develop the unique style of photography. The “Revenge of the Goldfish” and “Fox Games” are the best two artworks to prove that.

The “Revenge of the Goldfish” (Fig. 1) was photographed in 1981. The photograph is basically composed of two colors, turquoise dark and flesh ochre. The goldfish is in flash ochre and the background installation is in turquoise dark. The composition of colors makes the photograph look like a huge fish tank with tons of goldfish. However, it is a bedroom painted in turquoise dark with all the furniture in the same color in fact. The colors of the picture make a huge contrast in which the background is in cool color and the sculptures of the goldfish are in warm color.

The most eye-catching point in the photograph is the sculptures of goldfish because of their sharp and bright color. There are more than 100 goldfishes in different size and pose. Part of them is hanged in the air, part of them is on the floor and the rest is put on furniture. Those are placed on the floor look denser than those in the air. Those are hanged in the air look like swimming in the water. They face all directions.

One interesting thing is that there are many table lamps in the room, like four. Two of them are placed on the drawers on the right side of the photograph. There is a mirror in a classic frame above the drawers with the reflection of one of lamp. This makes the installation have more lamps than it really has. The other two are placed on the top on two bedside tables. Two sets of lamps are in different style; those on the bedside tables have a flatter lamp cover than those on the drawers. There are two big closed windows in the room. The bed is on the middle of the room which in between the two closed windows. The two bedside tables are placed in front of the windows.

Another interesting thing in the photograph is the two real human in the bed. One of them is a woman and another one is a man. The woman is sleeping on the bed in the blanket facing to the left side of the photograph. The nude man is sitting on the bed with the blanket covering his lower part of the body. He is facing the right side of the photograph looking at the ground. They seem to have a close relationship, but look like having an argument right now which makes them facing two different sides.

The camera is set in a specific position which makes the room is viewed in an angle. The corner of the room is facing the camera which is slightly to the left. The photograph shows three sides of the room with only small part of the third side on the left. Other than the special angle and point of view of the camera, the picture itself is also in a special point of view. More than 100 goldfish are in a human bedroom and the human seem to be unaware of this. It looks like the photograph is taken in the animal point of view; the goldfishes are looking at the human. In reality, the goldfish are normally put in the fish tank and watched by human but they interchange their roles in the picture. It is another contrast of the photograph.

Skoglund claims that she was not so familiar with installation art, sculpture and photography at the time she made this artwork. However, she thinks that it is good not to be good at things. It will make people really go back and question and wonder what everything they are doing. So as a result, she kept making the sculptures and became better at it. She believes that if a person work on certain thing over and over again, it would start to become more lively and convincing (Skoglund “Lecture”). She is a hard worker and loves learning new skills and techniques. She puts many efforts in every single artwork. Her attitude helps her a lot in managing all the skills.

In the first impression of the photograph, it looks like a dream; the two people in the bed in the middle are making dreams. They dream is about the goldfish are everywhere around their room. Carol Squiers thinks that the oversize fish are cute in a frightening way, like some freaks of nature that had overrun a human habitation. Goldfish are, in fact, freaks (Skoglund Sandy Skoglund: reality under siege: a retrospective 44). This is definitely a nightmare. The goldfish are believed to be a kind and meek pet; however, they are taking control of the human world. Sigmund Freud suggests that, “The dream is not a comparable to the irregular sounds of a musical instrument, which, instead of being played by the hand of a musician, is struck by some external forces; the dream is not meaningless, not absurd, does not presuppose that one part of our store of ideas is dormant while another part begins to awake. It is actually a wish-fulfillment” (Brill 208). Skoglund creates her artworks like dream simply has the same function, wish-fulfillment.

The “Revenge of the Goldfish” may imply that Skoglund is not satisfied with the real world which needs to be punished by the goldfish. The photograph can be interpreted in two different ways; she wants the goldfish to make the world right and the kind and meek one can be the one who control the world. Human always think that they are superior to the other animals; they are the smartest. In fact, human world may be the messiest world among all animals’. In this artwork, the human world is overrun by the goldfish. Because of the superiority, human always keep other animals as pets, sometimes treat them so badly. One day, the whole world may be changed and human are kept as pets by the other animals. Skoglund may want to make human think about themselves through this artwork. Human should not be that arrogant to control everything around. Another interpretation of the photo is similar to this one, but just focus on the human world. Every single person has different personalities and characteristics. Some of them are nice, kind and meek, which make them easily be looked upon by the others. Many people think that they will not be successful and cannot be somebody in the future. However, they may take revenge one day according to Skoglund’s artwork. Goldfish are once simple and ordinary creatures and being put in the fish tank, but they can break the glasses of the tank and go into human world to take revenge.

Skoglund may be looked upon by the others or thinks herself is inferior to the others. She wants to take revenge to the one who look upon her before. She also wants to step up for herself and makes those people know that they are wrong. She wants to be a successful person. The artwork serves as a wish-fulfillment to her. Although she is a famous artist now, she was not at first. She wants to express herself and her wish through the artwork, which many artists do the same way. The “Revenge of the Goldfish” is a perfect example showing that she does not satisfy with the real world and wants to make it right by her artworks. Not satisfied with the reality also leads to her style of artworks, surrealism. By one analysis, “Surrealism opens the doors of the dream to all those for whom night is miserly. Surrealism is the crossroads of the enchantments of sleep, of alcohol, of tobacco, of ether, of opium, of cocaine, of morphine; but it is also the breaker of chains, we do not sleep, we do not drink, we do not smoke, we do not sniff, we do not give ourselves injections, and we dream, and the speed of the lamp’s needles introduces in our minds the marvelous deflowered sponge of gold” (Jean 134).

“Fox Games” (Fig. 2) expresses herself even more clearly of thinking herself is different than or inferior to the others. “Fox Games” is a photograph created in 1989, eight years after the creation of the “Revenge of the Goldfish”. They share many common characteristics. Both of them have a contrast in color, a pattern of animal over the reality, a special angle of camera and the unaware human. “Fox Games” is set in a western restaurant with about nine circular tables. A vase with a flower inside, a basket of bread and two bottles of seasoning are put on each of the table. All the settings are in grey and also for the wall of the restaurant. There is a chandelier in the middle hang from the ceiling. There are eight lighted candles on it. A picture is placed on the wall on the left, but there seems to be nothing on the picture. There are two big, closed and classic windows on the right.

There are more than 20 foxes in the picture; all of them are red in color except for one. The special fox is in the center of the picture which is in grey, like the background. Some of the foxes are on the tables and some of them are on the floor. They look like having a party or a game in the restaurant; three of them are in a jumping pose which makes them look like playing. They seem to be jumping on the surface of the table, from one table to another. Some of them look like finding things which are looking at the floor. They are like searching in the restaurant. Those foxes on the tables tend to jump from one to another instead of jump onto the floor and those on the floor tend to continue walking on the floor rather than jumping onto the tables.

The grey fox in the middle of the picture is different from the others. It may represent Skoglund herself. When she was three, she became ill with polio which paralyzed her left shoulder and weakened her left arm. Because of her injury, Skoglund felt different from other children, making her became aware of the difference between appearances and reality – between how things look and how they really are. She does not look handicapped, but she is (Wolf 39). Skoglund suffered from a disease and became a bit handicapped, which makes her think that she is different from the others. Suffering from a disease is not a thing that she can control. She may feel unfair and unsatisfied with the world because of the handicap. She may also feel inferior to the others because of this. The grey fox can represent herself since all of them are foxes, but that one is different from the others in her psychological reality. Because of this difference, she starts to focus on differences of the world. This contributes to her development of her own style in her art. Surrealism is a world different from the reality world. Installation art is creating a scene or stage which is not reality either. She uses the photographs, which are believed to represent the truth, to express her art. She just wants to show that there are differences between how things look and how they really are.

There are three human in the photograph, two men and one woman. Two of them are customers and one of them is a waiter. Those two customers seem to be in upper middle class because of their noble dressing; the man is in a suit and the woman is in a classic dress. The waiter is wearing the uniform of the restaurant. They are sitting at the table far away from the lens of the camera. Their table is at the wall with the picture above. The man is drinking and the waiter is serving the lady. The waiter is holding something looks like food on his left hand. All of them are unaware of the red foxes all around the restaurant. They seem to be in different worlds; the foxes and the human beings cannot see each other. Each of them just enjoys their own moment; the human is having a meal while the foxes are playing around. They are in different moods too. The human are relaxed and calm, while the foxes have a faster pace.

The two customers are believed to be upper middle class and enjoying their tea time at the restaurant. Skoglund chooses to include them in the picture may because she was a middle class when she was little. In an interview, she had said that “The thing that I was finally single out out of everything was the class relationship between fine art and low art and, tangentially, to realize the success of Warhol in terms of punching through the fine art barrier…My intention is not to make stuff for museums and rich people but for everyone. I’m from middle class and I’m making work for my own class” (Masters par. 34). Skoglund did not forget her origin even though she is famous now. Art is for everyone.

The camera is set facing one of the corners of the restaurant. The corner is about in the middle of the photograph which makes us only see two walls of the restaurant.

Linda Muehlig indicates that there are sometimes dramatic reversals of palette between the installation and photograph, like “Fox Games”: grey foxes cavort in a red restaurant interior in the installation, but in the photograph, the foxes are red and the restaurant and all its furnishings are grey (Skoglund Sandy Skoglund: reality under siege: a retrospective 57). This changes the impression of photographs in most people’s mind. Photographs are believed to represent the truth. The camera catches the scene that is in front of the lens. Skoglund breaks this impression by creating the scene in front of the camera, which is not the real world. Her photographs show only her installation which is set according to her imagination or thoughts, the psychological reality. She then changes the colors of the photographs. This makes her photographs even not showing the real scene in front of the camera. This implies the theory that the fact that seen by the eyes may not necessary be the truth. It also emphasizes that the focus of Skoglund’s artwork is on the meaning behind the physical artwork, the unseen part, rather than just the photographs.

Sandy Skoglund is believed to be a surrealist whose artworks are different from the reality. In the “Revenge of the Goldfish” and “Fox Games”, there is a pattern over the real image of the reality which makes the photographs different from the real world. The unique style is developed because she suffered from polio and became handicapped in her early age. She started to view the world differently from that time and focused on the difference between how things look and how they really are. She thought that it was unfair and became unsatisfied with the world. She treats her artworks as her wish-fulfillment which represents her psychological reality. She also wants to make the world right through her artworks. Although her handicap is not obvious, it changes her a lot in the perception of the world and her style of art.

Works Cited

Brill, A., ed. The Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud. New York: The Modern Library, 1966.

  • Sigmund Freud is a psychologist that studies the consciousness and the unconsciousness. According to his writings, dream is a wish-fulfillment. Therefore, there is a meaning of each dream.

Jean, Marcel, ed. The Autobiography of Surrealism. New York: The Viking Press, 1980.

  • It talks about the basic idea of surrealism and its development. Surrealism was created by poets. It opens the doors of the dream to all those for whom night is miserly. This means surrealism involves lots of creativities. Surrealists’ works look different from the real world.

Masters, Greg. Interview with Sandy Skoglund. Sandy Skoglund. 13 June 1988. Sept 1988

  • Greg asked many detailed questions about Sandy’s attitude towards art. This is a long interview containing a lot of good information. It includes the installation, the main theme of her works, which is resemblances and difference, and also her development in installation arts and photography.

“Sandy Skoglund.” The Association of Art Galleries in Switzerland. 2006.

  • The webpage is simply the biography of Sandy Skoglund. Sandy was born in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1946 and started to work as a conceptual artist in 1972. 5 of her artworks are shown there. Some of them are commissioned by the Universities or museums.

Skoglund, Sandy. Lecture. Boston University School of Visual Arts. College of Fine Arts Concert Hall, Boston, MA. 16 Oct 2006.

  • Sandy Skoglund introduced her life in the lecture and also explains many of her artworks. There is also a Questions and Answers session at the end. Sandy shows the audiences her photographs and also the picture of the installation as a contrast.

Skoglund, Sandy. Sandy Skoglund: reality under siege: a retrospective. New York: Smith College Museum of Art, 1998.

  • It contains one interview and three essays from the others on her. Those essays talk about Sandy’s attitude towards photographs, or even art, and also explain some of her artworks, like Walking on Eggshells. There are many pictures of her artworks and installation in the book.

Wolf, Sylvia. FOCUS: Five Women Photographers. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman & Company, 1994.

  • The book talks about five women photographers including the pictures of their works. The author introduces their lives, and their style. My major concern is definitely Sandy Skoglund. It provides detail information of her, starting from a little child who loves making things to the first photograph she made to a successful artist.

Works Consulted

Abstract and Surrealist Art in the United States. San Francisco: The Guaranty Printing and Lithograph Co., 1944.

  • In this book, abstract and surrealist are put together. They are two large style of art and there are many classifications of those. The author suggests that the tendencies in both often parallel each other and at times overlap so that there is a fusion of elements from each.

“Animal Symbolism.” San Diego Jewish Academy. 2008

  • There is a long history in different cultures. Animals always have some meanings to them. Also, different animals will bring a different impression to human according to their characteristics and behaviors.

Baccili, Al, dir. WALKING ON EGGSHELLS. 1997. Sandy Skoglund Art Site. 2008.

  • It is a video showing the process of making the Walking on Eggshells. From the installation to the photograph, Sandy cares about each detail. She takes several shoots of the installation.

Benjamin, Andrew, ed. Installation Art. Vol. 8. London: Academy Editions, 1993.

  • There are many essays on installation art in this book. It defines what is meant by installation and hoe does it work out. Installation is just like a scene or a stage, but actually there are thoughts and meanings.

Clarke, Graham. The Photograph. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

  • The book discusses what is photography and how can we read photography. It also talks about the techniques of taking photos. I was amused by the setting of the photograph.

Davis, Kathryn M. Interview with Sandy Skoglund. “Truth, Commitment, and American Art.” Jan 2004. 27 Feb 2007

  • An interview between Kathryn Davis and Sandy Skoglund mainly talks about her artwork and the truth. A picture is said to be telling the truth. However, Sandy creates the scene in front of the camera.

Duplessis, Yves. Surrealism. Trans. Paul Capon. New York: Walker and Company, 1962.

  • The book explains the idea of surrealism. It also talks about the surrealists’ thoughts and concept. They focus on the meaning of the artwork much more than the physical art work.

Murray, Matt. “An interview with Sandy Skoglund.” The Printed Monkey. Mar 2007: 18-21.

  • The interview basically talks about Sandy’s idea of the world and artworks in general. Her perception of the world affects her artworks in certain way, not much. It also mentions the educational experience of Sandy since she has been an educator for over 30 years. She thinks that art history helps a lot in understanding art and she also thinks that certain values separate from material could be taught.

Rosenblum, Robert. “An Interview with Sandy Skoglund.” Sandy Skoglund: reality under siege: a retrospective. 17 May 1996: 12-25.

  • Sandy talked about her view towards art. She also describes how she made some of the installation as most of the things are made by hands. She focus on the unseem part more than the physical part.


Anh C.
Mr. G
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.

While in Los Angeles, the father had a difficult time find a job and decided to work as a junkman (Mayer 11). Goldstein went around picking up junk with horses pulling a wagon and this is as humiliating as jobs could become. A year later, the father cannot stand life and suicides (Auping 243), leaving behind seven children and a wife. The Guston found the gruesome death as the body hangs from the rope. “Can you imagine how it feels to find your father like that” (Mayer 12)? Guston would tell his close friends.

Through the experience, Guston’s interest in drawing became of importance to him (Ashton xiii). His mother, being supportive of him and his sibling sent his to an art school, the Cleveland School of Cartooning (Storr11). He soon became bored of the lessons on how to draw, Guston moved onto the Manual Arts High School at the age of fourteen (Storr 11). Upon entering, he meets Jackson Pollock (Storr 11) who later becomes his rival with deep love for each other in the way of art. Jackson Pollock is another famous painter of the time (Nicolas Pioch “Jackson Pollock”). The later years are the years he spent experimenting and worked on his art. His only schooling degree is an honorary doctorate from Boston University (Mayer 13). In his college year, he was accepted to Otis Art Institute, LA with one-year scholarship.

Otis Art Institute is where he meets his wife, Musa Mckim (Mayer 14). He marries her in 1937 (Ashton xiii). As he is dating Mckim, without a known reason except to impress her parents, he changes his name, spelling Phillip with one “l” and changes his last name from Goldstein into Guston (Mayer 21). In January 18 1943 his daughter, Musa Jane Guston was born (Auping 247). Before his death on June of 1980, he moved to Woodstock, New York (Weber 3), living for 67 years and spends about 50 years of his life in art.

Art is a way for a person to express himself through drawing, painting, dancing, etc, or a combination. Philip Guston holds true to this, he paints for himself and no other, as his emotions belong to him. In his later work the characters and objects shows his feelings. Placing his emotions into this work, he can only paint when he feels a certain way. The similarities in this painting, gives the audience a look into how he feels. The repetition of the color red, red is a representation of many expressions he feels while painting. In his painting, “The Line”, there are two instances of the use of the color. In his painting of “Painting, Smoking, Eating” the entire painting is red. The paintings relate to the many of others he painted by the objects. Each object leads to bits and pieces of his life. “The Line” is a simple when looked at but holds many meanings for the painter.

Philip Guston paints “
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.
As the eyes move towards the center, the clouds becomes a darker grey and smaller. They represent more of smoke then clouds. In the beginning of the 1900’s in Russia, there is anti-Semitism, which exists in the form of pogroms (Kozhinov 3). The darkness of the cloud represents the dark period in the lives of his people. At the center before the hole in the clouds, the color is white with lines of grey. The peace the people find by traveling to a different country for refugee is the white. The new start for the people starts rough and that explains the grey lines. Another theory of the cloud being dark in the center comes from his daughter, Musa Mayer, and what she believes her father to be. “Was my father – heroic figure that he was to me then - in some way ashamed of being Jewish” (Mayer 22). Clouds are what usually hide the sun. The sun is the truth bearer and if the sun is blocked, so would the truth. Her father is someone who is afraid of his identity and could be the reason of his name change and that is the truth. The clouds when looking as a whole looks very much like the brain. The fact that it looks like a storm cloud could mean brainstorm. The storm of the mind returns to the time of his first art show. Pollock shows up drunk and “the tension between Pollock and Guston, which was based on deep mutual respect” (Storr 18), is the argument between his transition from abstraction to personal painting. When he moves away from abstractions, he moved onto self-reflect painting. The new painting has him represented someway, whether how he thinks or what he does.

In the center, the hole is black while the hand is red. The hand casts a shadow slightly to the right behind it but is larger then the hand that is also black. The artist is using light coming from the left side. The fact that the hand has shadows, compared to the clouds, it stands out more. Looking exactly where the hand comes out, it looks a part of the picture because it is behind the clouds. The center of the clouds is also the darkest part of the painting when looking at color. There is a part in his life where he cannot as he says, “I didn’t feel a strong conviction about the kind of figuration I’d been doing for about eight years” (Storr 15). The darkest hours of his day reflects onto the paint in this area and in other areas of the painting. The dark lines that form the clouds against the newly painted hand seem like the scars on the hand. A particular one directly above the wrist makes it looks as though the hand would fall off. Reflecting on what he says about the period that he is unsure of himself and what he has done. “I entered a bad painful period when I had lost what I’d had and had nowhere to go” (Storr 15). The pain like cuts from the hand he painted which then leaves a scar like the painful memories in his life that never goes away.

The hand is paint red, the color that shows up in most all of his paintings. The long bumps coming from the hand seems to be veins. The hand is skinny and the bone sticks out at the wrist. It must belong to someone who is worn and old, someone who has work all his life, from childhood until old. The veins start from a straight origin then as it moves onto the back of the palm, it tangles up and very little shows up in the fingers. Above the pinky, a dark line is not part of the shadow. The mark could be another cut or scar on the hand. The painting, as introduce, is done very late in his life (Auping 218). The other thing mention is he paints parts of himself in his paintings. The hand can clearly be seen belong to an elder. He is the elder. Although old, he can still paint.
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.

On the red base is a thick black line drawn by the hand of the painting. The line ends two third ways from right to left and slants the opposite of the red base. The line is also thinner as it moves inwards. At the end of the line, it is attached to a black art material, most likely oil, what the painter used to paint the entire piece. All the hand can ever do is the line because this is where Guston stops the hand. The line remains a line and “drawings that didn’t work and were thrown away, were just lines” (Dabrowski 29). Returning to the comment of the shadow and the light direction that the artist uses, the light comes from the left side. “To will a new form is unacceptable” (Storr 107), as the shadow of a single object remains the same and cannot be changed. The line is placed on the right and goes cross to the end of the painting. In theory, the line could just be the shadow cast by the object the fingers are holding and of the fingers. The object the hand is holding might not be for drawing but is a cigarette as Guston is a smoker (Mayer 10). Smoking is one of the many repeating objects in his paintings. All of the shadowing and lighting of the piece falls into the line being just a shadow and not a painted line.

The illusion of the line not being a real line and the hand on the canvas on a canvas that has not painted anything could mean that the old hand, through aging and time, working hard, ends up at a point and everything the hand works for is nothing but the illusion of that line. The head of the hands in the clouds could mean having one’s head in the clouds and thinking but everything thought of is only in thoughts.

The second painting is “Painting, Smoking, Eating” also done on canvas with oil between 1972 and 1973 close to the end of his life but before the first painting. In the painting, the first thing that caught my eyes was the head. The shape of the head is very round and with a long jaw. The only noticeable feature of the head is that it has an ear on one side and a long chinless jaw. The most protruding area is the eye: there is only one eye and one eyebrow looking as if it stretches across the face. The simplicity for the face is for the audience to have very little to judge upon as he states what he believes to be the worst thing in the world. “The worst thing in the world is to make judgments. What I always try to do is to eliminate, as much as possible, the time span between thinking and doing. The ideal is to think and to do at the same second, the same split second” (Dabrowski 46). The time it takes to look at the head and think about what is on the head is very small. There is only one eye, one brow, and one ear present. The audience then moves onto a different part of the painting because there is so much more to look at around the head.

Around the head and body are shoes and painting material. Looking from far away the objects seems unwanted and unused. As noted in the biography of Guston, his father was a junkman. His daughter also mentions, “her grandfather ended up working as a junkman, driving a horse drawn wagon through the streets collecting refuse, a job he found humiliation” (Mayer 11). Part of his life, he was traumatize by the dead of his father. One of the causes of the death is the humiliating job. Hidden within the junk is a cigarette in the unseen mouth of the head and the cigarette is lit. The second word in the title is smoking and Guston is a smoker. A photograph was taken of him walking with Musa McKim at a rally and in his hand is a lit cigarette (Ashton 39). Across the painting about half way lies a plate of food untouched and looks like fries. The food is cater to the lying body and placed there as Guston does not like to cater to what people want from his art. “If you work to please yourself or catering to yourself, why should you cater to a looker or art critic” (Storr 108)? He does as he pleases and the food untouched remains untouched, as catering to others is not acceptable.

Below the plate of food is a blanket covering the body. The covering of the body shows insecurity of the person or thing portrayed by the painting. On the top left corner stands a light bulb. The light bulb I believe is lit because the entire painting except for the bottom is red, as the reds light from the light bulb spreads to every room. From his childhood, the death of his father still lingers to the day he dies. The changes he goes through shows up in his art. One of the past memories he has, is him in a closet. He “begins to withdraw to a closet lit by single light bulb hanging from ceiling to practice copying cartoon strips” (Auping 243). The image of the light bulb hanging over is a repeated image in his later paintings.

Red shows up all over the painting and shows up in most of his paintings. The connection to something as the objects shown here is repeated throughout his later art work. On the far right side of the painting, there is a line wit a loop at the end. That might be the switch to the light but there is a line. The start of every painting or drawing is the line. The most repeating object is not the line or anything else. It is a color and it’s the color red. The first painting, the entire hand is red, it is the biggest part of the painting besides the background. The second painting, for the most part it is a shade of the same red as the hand from the first painting.

Red is a color that can symbolize many feelings and every day life. In life, the period of time when he starts to paint for towards a person level then abstract, red comes into play as being ripe, a fruit, say mango when it is ripe it turns red. This means that the fruit is ready to eat and will soon fall off the tree. The action of fall as Guston is near the days of life when he is about to depart. Red is connects to every day objects. Fire, a useful thing but can be devastating. Compared to his paintings, on a surface level, away from the fire it may not mean much. Closer to the fire and deeper into the painting, Guston connects them to his life and himself, the burns that he went through. On the emotion level of red, it is connect to passion and hate. The two are complete opposites but they exist hand in hand. Guston is trying to point out that life, although is tough and full of the unpleasant, people need to look what is coinciding with that unpleasantness. The other half is the upbeat and better direction to life.

Through his years of painting, Guston starts as an abstract expressionist and ends up expressing himself better by painting what he wants to paint. What he sees, what he sees is himself in the world of his past. He tries to show his audience speaking to them without words of his past. The repeating images, the style, which for the most part is cartoon like, and the colors he chooses.

Works Cited

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. 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).

  • 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.

Works Consulted

Koppelman, Dorothy. “Philip Guston: The Man, His Life, and His Work.” Aesthetic Realism Foundation, New York City, Sept. 1997.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Last Assignment!: Reflective Essay

James Sienna, "Corner Drawing", Second Version, graphite on paper, 10 3/4 x 8 1/4", 2000.

You are to write a personal-reflective essay of your growth in my class for the year. I am not looking for compliments on my teaching here (and I am certainly not looking for criticism!) You should give an account of an anecdotal moment or two related to class that represent your growth for the year. Like the college essay, you are striving for an engaging memoir, not a resume or a list of achievements. And please AVOID CLICHÉ LIKE THE PLAGUE! Be specific with what we can learn from characters, events, books, how literature has or can have an impact on your life, etc.....700 words.

Due: May 23rd: Make sure it is typed.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Revising, Editing & Formatting the Research Paper

Now that you have a completed rough draft and a completed annotated bibliography, here are your next steps in Revising, Editing & Formatting (with yourself or with others):
  • Thesis--Read through the paper again. Do you need to change your thesis at all, make more specific, etc...? Now that your have your argument "in the flesh", you can see how well your thesis matches and fix accordingly.
  • Evidence--1.Quality: this is your last chance to take a serious look at your work and ask yourself if you have appropriate depth and insight in your evidence and 2. Variety: If you notice you are citing the same source over and over again, you probably lack the depth in variety of evidence to produce good analysis.
  • Organization--Is your whole paper organized in a way to present a logical and coherent argument, as well as provide a subtle and sophisticated argument?
  • Conclusion--After reading your paper, will the reader be left with the question, "So what? Why did I read this paper?" Or will they know. We're not looking for summaries here, we're looking for an answer to the question, "what's the point?"

Integrating Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism:

  • look at pages 187-191 in the easyWriter book, and apply advice to your paper. This is a critical step in making your paper readable, and hence, interesting to read.

Internal Citations, proper phrasing and style:

  • look at pages 200-203 in the easyWriter book, and apply advice to your paper. This is also a critical step in making your paper readable, and hence, interesting to read.

Finally, Proper MLA formatting:

  • look at pages 198-199 in the easyWriter book, and apply advice to your paper. I will not accept paper unless it is formatted correctly. Do this step last, even after your final spell check.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Shameless Self-Promotion...

Ryan Gallagher reads from his translations of the ancient Roman poet Catullus

@ the Revolving Museum on 22 Shattuck Street in downtown Lowell on Thursday, May 8th, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. Click here for Map. Click here for directions.

The Urban Village Arts Series (UVAS) will celebrate the release of its first CD, "The Best of UVAS," with a free party. The double CD features live recordings of poets, musicians, authors, singers and other artists of varying specialties who have performed at UVAS over the last year and will be available for $10. All proceeds will go toward funding the UVAS 2008-2009 season. We will be celebrating the event which has grown into a community with free food from a local restaurant and entertainment from Lowell writer and translator, Ryan Gallagher, and local UVAS veterans, Hot Day at the Zoo (music).

Admission is free, and we hope you'll join us to celebrate the talent of these wonderful local and regional artists as well as the hard work of the UMass Lowell students from the English, Art, and Sound Recording Technology programs who spent the last several months producing the CD.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

New Painting by Ryan Gallagher

I think I'm going to call it "The Death of Ophelia". It's oil on canvas.