Philip Guston (1913-1980)
Born in Montreal, Canada to a family who emigrated from Odessa, in the Ukraine, Guston’s 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.