In the 1950s, Philip Guston was a successful abstract painter, exhibiting works like Dial
internationally, and earning his living through their sales. He created these pieces by working very closely to the canvas, experimenting with the outcomes of paint application. He described himself as being drawn to certain colours – reds, greys and pinks – which form the dominant colours of this piece. Seeming to cluster together in the centre, the marks of this abstract work are like precursors to his later, more figurative ‘pileups’ of limbs or shoes that became a key part of his later works.
FSC Certified paper and wood
Date of work
Original: Oil paint on canvas 182.8 x 193 cm, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, purchase 56.44 ©The Estate of Philip Guston 2023 Digital image © Whitney Museum of American Art / Licensed by Scala
Philip Guston (1913 – 1980) was a Canadian American artist, who worked in painting, drawing, printmaking and murals. Born in Canada to a Jewish immigrant family, he grew up in the US and was one of the most celebrated abstract painters of the 1950s and 1960s. His early work addressed racism in America and wars abroad. During the social and political upheavals of the late 1960s, Guston rejected abstraction, and instead developed a practice involving large-scale paintings and comic-like figures, some in white hoods representing evil and the everyday perpetrators of racism. These paintings and those that followed established Guston as one of the most influential painters of the late 20th century.