Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hump Day Artist: Philip Guston
One of the hardest things to do as an artist is to find your style.  Even harder than that is completely changing your style mid-career.  Today's Hump Day Artist is Philip Guston and that is exactly what he did.  Philip Guston was a member of the Abstract Expressionist movement, who painted very beautiful, very quiet abstract pieces.  However, he realized this style of painting was not for him, and left abstraction behind for a more realistic and comical style.  To get an idea of the transformation, here are some of his early abstract pieces:
And here is another later piece:
It takes a lot of bravery to change your work like this and I think that is what makes Philip Guston so interesting.  All artists go through transition in their work, but to change it completely?  That is incredibly rare.  Here is a quote that really sums up Guston's struggles with abstraction.  In the midst of his abstract career, Philip Guston said this:

"There is something ridiculous and miserly in the myth we inherit from abstract art.  That painting is autonomous, pure and for itself, therefore we habitually analyze its ingredients and define its limits.  But painting is 'impure'.  It is the adjustment of 'impurities' which forces its continuity.  We are image-makers and image-ridden." (

I think the lesson of today's post is not to be afraid with your art.  Make work that is your own.  It's easy to make art that looks like other people's art, but who is going to care about that?  People don't remember Phillip Guston's abstract pieces.  It's the silly, hot pink, comic book pieces that people know and love.  Most of my favorite paintings are the ones that my art professors hated the most.  Stick by your guns and people will get on board.

This is a totally a motivation post for myself, but I think it applies to any field.  Philip Guston is an inspiration to us all.

For more of Philip Guston's work, go to

No comments:

Post a Comment