Philip Guston

About Artist: Philip Guston, born Phillip Goldstein (June 27, 1913 — June 7, 1980), was a painter and printmaker in the New York School, which included many of the abstract expressionists, such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. In the late 1960s Guston helped to lead a transition from abstract expressionism to neo-expressionism in painting, abandoning the so-called "pure abstraction" of abstract expressionism in favor of more cartoonish renderings of various personal symbols and objects.Born in 1913 in Montreal, Guston moved with his family to Los Angeles as a child, his Ukrainian Jewish parents having escaped persecution when they moved from Odessa, Ukraine, to Canada. Guston and his family were aware of the regular Klan activities against Jews, blacks and others which took place across California during Guston's childhood. When Guston was 10 or 11, his father hanged himself in the shed, and the young Guston found the body. Guston began painting at the age of 14, and in 1927 he enrolled in the Los Angeles Manual Arts High School, where both he and Jackson Pollock studied under Frederick John de St. Vrain Schwankovsky and were introduced to modern European art, oriental philosophy, theosophy and mystic literature. Guston's early work was figurative and representational. His mother supported his artistic inclinations, and he often made drawings in a small closet, lit by a hanging bulb. Apart from his high school education and a one-year scholarship at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, Guston remained a largely self-taught artist. During high school, Guston and Jackson Pollock published a paper opposing the high school's emphasis on sports over art. Their criticism led to both being expelled, but Pollock returned and graduated. At Otis on scholarship, Guston felt unfulfilled by the academic approach which limited him to drawing from plaster casts instead of the live model. Before dropping out of Otis, Guston spent a night in the studio making drawings of these figurative plasters scattered all over the studio floor.

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