This artwork, Monument
, shows a tangle of legs bent at the knee, painted in shades of pinks, reds, browns and whites. Similar piles of legs and shoes, like the ones here, can be found in many of Guston’s paintings and drawings from the mid-1970s. The legs are painted in Guston’s signature, almost cartoonish style, and are of varying sizes and skin tones. The scale of the painting itself could be described as monumental, measuring over two metres in both directions, giving the bundle of disembodied legs and feet a disquieting feel.
FSC Certified paper and wood
Date of work
Original: Oil paint on canvas 203.2 x 279.4 cm Tate. Purchased with assistance from the American Fund for the Tate Gallery 1991 © The Estate of Philip Guston
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.