Philip Guston

Montreal, Canada, 1913 - Woodstock, New York, USA, 1980
  • Date: 
  • Technique: 
    Black chalk on paper
  • Dimensions: 
    Support: 45,5 x 60,5 cm
  • Category: 
    Work on paper, Drawing
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 

After Philip Guston’s time in Abstract Expressionism, the prevailing trend in 1950s America, he returned to figuration with a simplified and poetically charged drawing style. Guston introduced a personal imaginary that connected to universal themes through the perspective of what he considered “the tangible”. His need to get past the physical appearance in order to give his works a deeper content drew him into a process of stylistic development that led towards a new direction inside traditional figurative language which would merge meaning and structure. His numerous series of drawings show his return to the human figure and objects; he presents the drawings in series and individually, but they always have a tone of absolutes: hooded figures, shoe soles, irons, buildings, books and so on. The hooded Ku Klux Klan figure would become one of his most frequent iconographic motifs, representing the artist himself while serving as an example of his reflection on the cruder sides of social reality. The figure becomes a transitional motif between animate and inanimate objects, like those connected to his everyday activities and surroundings. These are objects that explored the poetic side of the material world around him, providing some response to current events like the Vietnam War and the social and racial conflicts of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which Guston used to map out his vision of reality.

Ruth Gallego Fernández