Rather than an illustration of a poem, this artwork is a collaboration between the poet Musa McKim and the artist Philip Guston, with Guston painting the piece in response to the feelings McKim’s poem evoked in him. A pencil, a book, seashells, a bird’s nest, a lamp and a hand holding a pencil accompany Musa McKim’s short poem: ‘I thought I would never / write anything down again / Then I put on my cold wristwatch’. Guston and McKim were married, and had a big influence on each other’s work.
I Thought I Would Never
FSC Certified paper and wood
Original: Ink on paper 48.3 x 61.0 cm Private Collection © The Estate of Philip Guston Digital Image © The Guston Foundation
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.