Guston, Philip

Guston, Philip, 1913–80, American painter, b. Montreal. Guston immigrated to the United States in 1916. His earliest role models as an artist were such Mexican muralists as José Orozco and David Siqueiros; he later made nonobjective murals with Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. His sensitivity to the relationships of masses of color on canvas caused some critics to call him an “abstract impressionist.” He was, however, intimately associated with abstract expressionism, and during the 1950s and 60s painted some of the most lyrical works connected with that movement. The Painter's City (1956) is a well-known work. During the latter part of his life, from the late 1960s on, Guston's work changed startlingly. His new paintings, which shockingly departed from his previous refinement, were figurative but strange—nightmarishly cartoonish in image, blunt in approach, and charged with social consciousness; his hooded figures explicitly evoke the Ku Klux Klan.

See studies by D. Ashton (1976) and M. Auping, ed. (2003).

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