Good afternoon class, today you're going to be learning a bit about Philip Guston. He's a really cool guy.
Sidney B. Felsen - Philip Guston in his studio in Woodstock, New York, April 1980
He became famous in the Abstract Expressionist scene (featuring artists like Pollock and De Kooning)
...and then, around 1970, got fed up with abstraction, developing a crazy style inspired by comic book art.
Philip Guston – Ancient Wall
He was widely ridiculed by the art world for his new style, dropped by his gallery, and even lost a close friend over it.
Philip Guston - Thing?
The painter Philip Guston was Morton Feldman's best friend. In 1970, Guston abandoned the abstract expressionist style he had been closely associated with, and began painting cartoonish figures that often included shoes, disembodied eyeballs, and hooded figures. To say Feldman was shocked would be an understatement. As someone recently told me the story (heard from someone else who was there), Feldman came to the initial exhibition and Guston came up to ask him what he thought. For several minutes, Feldman simply couldn't speak, and Guston slowly and sadly got the point. Finally Feldman just turned away and left, and the two parted ways for years. And Feldman wasn't the only one. "It was as though I had left the church," Guston later recalled; "I was excommunicated for awhile." (PostClassic)
In 1978, Guston painted “Friend - To M.F." [left] - a portrait of Feldman in profile, his head turned away: "an image of their mutually regretted estrangement" (Source)
Philip Guston – Painting, Smoking, Eating
In 1984, 4 years after Guston's death, Morton Feldman dedicated a work to him (4-hour-long experimental music piece)
Philip Guston – Untitled (Cherry)
Guston moved from New York to Woodstock to get some distance from the art world, continuing to work in his representational style for the rest of his life. He died in Woodstock in 1980.
Philip Guston – The Studio
He has come to be recognized as an influential artist,
Today, it's not uncommon to see a Guston piece -- whether abstract or representational -- sell for $1,000,000 or more.