In The Line
, 1978, a giant, thickly lined hand emerges from the clouds in a blue sky to draw a line on the red ground. Lines were important to Philip Guston. He thought of the line as the starting point of creation, seeing unsuccessful artworks as ‘just lines’. But as he explained in conversation with the poet Clark Coolidge, ‘When the line defines a space and the space defines the line, there you’re somewhere.’
FSC Certified paper and wood
Date of work
Original: Oil on canvas 180.3 x 186.1 cm Promised gift of Musa Guston Mayer to The Metropolitan Museum of Art © The Estate of Philip Guston Photograph by Genevieve Hanson, courtesy Hauser & Wirth
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.