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Philip Guston

Philip Guston

(1913 - 1980)
Born: Montreal, Canada
Style: Abstract Expressionism
Famous Works:
  • Martial Memory (1941)
  • To B.W.T. (1952)
  • Painter in Bed (1973)
Philip Guston's penchant for rebellion was evident from a young age. As a child, the artist was prone to standing up to perceived injustices, a quality that would get him into some trouble, but ultimately fuel his artistic development. Though mostly self-taught, Guston did attend the Los Angeles Manual Arts High School as a teenager. Guston co-penned a letter critical of the school policies with Jackson Pollock, for which both artists were expelled. Much of Guston's early work was inspired by his travels through Mexico, where he admired the work of muralist Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco. Upon his return he settled in New York, where he was invited to work in the Federal Art Project as a muralist from 1934 to 1941. Throughout the 1940s, Guston worked to establish his style which was becoming less representational, increasingly abstract. By 1950, Guston was working in the Abstract Expressionist style, filling canvases with contrasting textures and distinctive brushstrokes. After several decades, in the 1970s, his art making returned to using representational images of the figure. His canvases are filled with cartoon-like, elaborately and garishly colored shapes, and approach issues of social commentary such as homelessness and the Ku Klux Klan. His paintings are credited as the initiation of New Image Painting, whose members include Jennifer Bartlett, Donald Sultan, and Susan Rothenberg. In 1962, Philip Guston achieved international recognition with a retrospective exhibit at the Guggenheim.
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