Philip Guston, USA | 1913-1980

Poor Richard

Clark Coolidge + Philip Guston

A Car Part
To Draw is to Make Be More Than One Start
...Smoking and Drawing
To Release It Needs A Grip So Strong
...I Need to
I Have a Large Dog I Taught to Lie Still
I Kicked Into Precise Space Without Touching
Lines, Drops"
...I am the First to Have Seen Where I Live

William Corbett + Philip Guston

The Richard Nixon Story
Easter... (c. 1975)
Memorial Day (1975)

Stanley Kunitz + Philip Guston

Untitled (From "Vita Nuova") (1976)
Journal for My Daughter (1976)

Musa Mckim + Philip Guston

Awakened by a Mosquito in the Villa Aurelia
I Thought I would never write anything down again
Unhappy Drugstore
A Black No
Summer (1953)

Stanley Kunitz + Philip Guston

The Testing Tree (1976)

Philip Guston's "Poor Richard" in UbuWeb Historical
Debra Balken on Philip Guston's "Poor Richard" in UbuWeb Papers

Philip Guston was born in Montreal, Canada to a family who emigrated from Odessa, in the Ukraine. His family moved to Los Angeles where Guston attended high school and where he met Jackson Pollock. By age 15, he had decided to become an artist, and enrolled at the Otis Art Institute 1930. In 1932, Guston and Pollock watched David Alfaro Siquieros paint his well-known mural at Pomona College, and in 1936, Guston joined Pollock in New York City where he worked in the mural painting division of the Federal Art Project. In the early 1940's, he held teaching positions in the Mid-West, returning to New York in 1947.

Guston's career spans fifty years. He began as a political muralist, and by the early 1950's was associated with the second generation of Abstract Expressionists. He called his signature style abstract impressionism, a style of irregular abstraction with small brushstrokes of delicate color on a white field.

In the late 1960's, Guston returned to figurative painting. He developed a complex and highly personal iconography including images of Ku Klux Klan members, shoes, and bottles that are brightly and sometimes crudely painted. Guston's vision had become apocalyptic and fantastic yet disquietingly comic.