Philip Guston (American, born Canada, 1913–1980) was a friend of Jackson Pollock, who convinced him to move to New York and introduced him to other artists including Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline. Despite his proximity to these artists and their bold, gestural works, Guston’s style became characterized by floating color forms and bright, luminous energy. Voyage, 1956, is an example of this nonobjective trend, in which areas of color cluster toward the middle of the canvas. The artist was influenced by Chinese art and calligraphy, the tenets of Buddhism, and works by Piet Mondrian (Dutch, 1872–1944) in developing this style, one that some critics called “Abstract Impressionism.”
Above, the artist stands in front of Voyage at the opening of Contemporary Art—Acquisitions 1954–1957 on May 15, 1957. Voyage, along with works by Pollock, de Kooning, and Kline, are on view now as part of Sincerely Yours: Treasures of the Queen City through September 14, 2014.
I believe it was John Cage who once told me, ‘When you start working, everybody is in your studio- the past, your friends, enemies, the art world, and above all, your own ideas- all are there. But as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you’re lucky, even you leave.’
Featuring 36 paintings and 53 drawings, the exhibition explores a pivotal decade in the career of the preeminent 20th century American artist.
‘I do not see why the loss of faith in the known image and symbol in our time should be celebrated as a freedom. It is a loss from which we suffer, and this pathos motivates modern painting and poetry at its heart.’ – Philip Guston, 1958