(American, b. Canada 1913-1980)
30 x 42 inches.
Gund Gallery Collection; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Graham Gund ’63.
A heavy atmosphere drifts through Guston’s View like a cloud of cigarette smoke that is interrupted by thick, frenzied marks and violent scratches. The objects lying on the ground are ambiguous. Are they paintbrushes, or cigarettes; shoe soles, or something else entirely? Remnants of the artist in the studio, these objects appear swollen and limp, taking on a fleshy and phallic quality. Excess corporeality of the spent objects reflects Guston’s pessimism about the meaning of painting and artistic production itself in the 70’s. In a modern world rife with injustice and violence, frantic and furious artistic production seemed like screaming into the wind, no matter how impassioned. Actively seeking to dismantle his artistic reputation as an Abstract Expressionist, Guston turned to making cartoonish representational drawings whose ridiculousness highlights what he perceived as a nonsensical search for meaning in art.
Harlee Mollenkopf `17