Without Guston

Philip Guston work at SFMOMASo far I have explored the Abstract Expressionism exhibition at the National Gallery in Canberra room by room.  My last blog, in the End of the Y I left out  one very important painting. It was Philip Guston’s Prospect.


I couldn’t wait to get to New York, home of the expressionists but Philip Guston was not on my wish list of art heroes like De Kooning and Diebenkorn.  I’d always been drawn to his work but it wasn’t until I saw his early works en masse that I was hit hard by the oily Guston stick.  Paintings on the wall never compare to books.  This painting and all I saw of Gustons were fresh, like he painted them and left the room for a break and he would be back soon.  It was also the area he left surrounding the push and pull of paint.

It was difficult for others to understand why he left this abstractionist style behind but in the book Night Studio by his daughter Musa Mayer it was what he wanted to do, to take himself out of what was expected by him.  So I was pretty impressed by the inclusion of this work of his in the abstract expressionist group. Books just don’t cut it, you have to see the paint strokes.   Somewhere in a sketchbook I have made a scribbled note of which painting the one above was but I do know it was a super close up of a work in San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Philip Guston Prospects 1964The work here is entitled Prospects dated 1964.


2 thoughts on “Without Guston

  1. I saw that show. IOne of my favorite books of all time was Night Studio It is dog eared, coffee stained parts off the spine. I loved his early abstraction 0- was amazed by his SFMA show. He loved paint.

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