Abstract Expressionist New York
October 3, 2010–April 25, 2011
Although Guston’s career began and ended with figurative painting, for sixteen years he devoted himself wholly to abstraction. His work of this period is relatively modest in scale when compared to that of his Abstract Expressionist peers. He applied paint in short, thick strokes using small brushes and pigments specially ground to achieve a creamy appearance, working very close to the canvas, often without a predetermined plan. “The desire for direct expression became so strong that even the interval necessary to reach back to the palette beside me became too long,” he said. “ I forced myself to paint the entire work without stepping back to look at it.”
Abstract Expressionist New York: The Big Picture, October 3, 2010–April 25, 2011
Curator, Ann Temkin: Painting is a relatively early abstraction by Guston made soon after he had come under the spell of Abstract Expressionism and left behind the figuration with which he had worked for more than a decade.
This is almost to the point of being what you might call obsessive where he's standing next to the canvas and making these marks with his paintbrush one after the other. In this case, a lot of vertical strokes as well as horizontal strokes with layers and layers of closely related colors whether they're peaches, salmons, dark reds, burgundies here. And then building this architecture of paint strokes that only when he would take a rest and step back from the canvas would he realize what he has there.
But here in this picture one feels it's about something. It's about this red mass, is it landscape? Is it people? Is it a force? It's a force of paint.