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.”
Gallery label from Abstract Expressionist New York, October 3, 2010-April 25, 2011.