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Philip Guston: Retrospective [Hardcover]

Michael Auping , Dore Ashton
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

31 Mar 2003
The most comprehensive survey of Philip Guston's work to date, this catalogue showcases 138 paintings and drawings, spanning from 1930 to the artist's death in 1980. A team of scholars addresses key issues and themes surrounding the development of Guston's art, exploring his early influences and the origins of symbols that resurfaced and played a prominent role in his late work. They provide insight into Guston's philosophy regarding abstraction, his role within its development, and the social and art historical context from which his so-called 'Klan paintings' emerged. The volume includes an essay written by Guston, an illustrated chronology of the artist's life and career, and a comprehensive bibliography.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson Ltd; First Edition edition (31 Mar 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500093083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500093085
  • Product Dimensions: 31.2 x 25.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,340,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'What caused our friendship to flourish was, to begin with, a similar intellectual outlook, a love for many of the same books as well as a shared delight in what Guston called 'crapola', starting with billboards, garages, diners, burger joints, junk shops, auto body shops...What sealed the camaraderie was that we liked each other's new work' - Philip Roth

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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
The book of the Guston exhibition at the Royal Academy in 2004. I'd never heard of Guston but he's really interesting, developing from standard modernism through abstract expressionism to the cartoonish later years. Yet even the abstract paintings (wonderful colours) have faint figurative glimmerings and the hooded figures of his last period are as non-representational as you can get. Informative text.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An Incomplete look at a great painter 11 Sep 2012
Format:Hardcover
I saw this retrospective in 2004 at the royal academy and was surprised to see so many of Guston's great paintings missing from this show. However being a fan of Guston this didn't stop me from ordering the catalogue at a later date anyway. The first thing I noticed was that the catalogue has even more paintings missing than the exhibition did, and to add insult to injury the reproductions of the paintings are small and not of the greatest quality! I find it rediclous that this is called a retrospective when its so incomplete. Im sure at some point there'll be a far superious overview publish on the life and work of this great painter, so until then I'd save your hard earned cash!
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars terrific, but incomplete 5 Aug 2003
By christopher wren - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Guston restrospective, which I viewed at the SFMOMA in July 2003, was a rich, disturbing, illuminating exhibit. This catalogue of that show reprints a tremendous range (over 130 works) of Guston's work, all of it in fine, nuanced photography of the canvases. The early work includes realistic paintings with war themes, street scenes, and images of urban childhood in the manner of Ben Shahn. Eerily, Guston's hoods and bootsoles already appear. Next, the book's coverage of Guston's abstract phase reveals indebtedness to Mondrian's first abstractions; then Guston finds his own vocabulary in brisk, thick aggregates of rough rectangles on gently boiling backgrounds. Pink and red predominate, as in his later work. As part of both his oevre and Abstract Expresionism, these are among the most successful, aesthetic works of this great period in American art. For offering this total record of his development and contributions, the book provides something of great value.
His brief but famous "Klan" period follows, and then the long final phase--the pink "lima-bean" heads, the skinny, runny-meat legs, the stubble, the huge stunned eyes. The book, like the show, exposes a startling range in these paintings, confirming that Guston's seemingly narrow palette and imagery served his imagination and themes with great breadth and force. Especially powerful are two drawings and a large painting of Nixon. The last work in the catalogue is a Guston-style deli sandwich, a small (18 by 18 inches?) but hugely sensual and humorous work that surprised me at the exhibit. The book also reproduces a number of crude yet painterly black drawings done in few but expressive strokes.
The catalogue includes a useful chronology of Guston's life and work, many many photographs of him in various times and circumstances, and critical/historical exporation of his work via 4 or 5 articles penned by writers who cover varied topics relevant to his career and aims--all illustrated and all drawing on Guston's own statements and articles. His words include some provocative criticisms of the limitations of abstract art, a form which he of course abandoned in the mid 1960's. Abstract art fascinates me, yet Guston's statments gave/give me much to think about.
My sole major criticism of this otherwise terrific book is that it fails to reprint several of the works in the exhibit. Most of the missing work is owned by SFMOMA, which was one of the host museums, so this is a real mystery. Further, the missing works are among the best of the exhibition--and are thus as good as anything included in the book. The single most egregious omission is 1975's "Head and Bottle," a grim, transfixing portrayal of alcoholism. Also gone are a work Guston painted inspired by T. S. Eliot's "Four Quartets" and an epic and (arguably) hopeful triptych called "Red Sea, The Swell, and Blue Water." These great works all appeared in the exhibit, yet are nowhere in the catalogue. A few others are missing as well, but I'm not familiar enough with Guston's work to identify or even accurately describe them just from my visual memory of this enormous and stirring show, and that is precisely what is so frustrating about the book. Surely one essential purpose of an exhibition catalogue is to honor the total visual experience of its exhibit.
Of course, for each of these missing works, the book reprints several that are just as evocative and harrowing. Thus, as a monograph of Guston this is an excellent choice, one I will always find useful, beautifully produced, and engaging. I'm still very glad I bought it. But as a record of what the exhibit actually offered, as a way of re-experiencing the "Retrospective" of the book's title, the book falls a little short.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Philip Guston: Retrospective 27 Feb 2004
By Melissa T. Osborne - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The definitive book on Philip Guston with many illustrations from each period of his work. Many excellent essays including one in his own words describing the evolution of each painting.

I bought the book after seeing the exhibition in San Francisco. Fully aware that the color illustratons were disappointing in quality (some paintings show pink ground color when that just isn't so) it is still a book I wouldn't be without. But be aware, color printing really isn't up to the quality found in many art books today.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A most influential artist 1 April 2007
By Reich Claude - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
There are very few books available on Philip Guston's work and this one gives a good overview of his entire career. Guston influenced most of the important artists at work today in some way or other, especially in his late works and the reasons for this influence become obvious when one skims through the pages of this retrospective and discovers what a great artist he was.

Many first-rate illustrations show the depth and scope of his art, with most of his seminal works (abstract as the canvas "Beggar's Joys" from the 1950's, figurative as the masterpiece "the Studio", from 1969) deciphered by a text which is informative as well as insightful.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars comprehensive retrospective 7 April 2008
By Kasumi Ejiri - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I thought the book covered a lot of ground with a fantastic sweep of images from his early career to the end of his career. So if you want a book that covers his whole career then this is the book for you.
The essays are really interesting as well, with an analysis of his whole career, with particular reference to his later works.
I really liked the number of later works that are included.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great addition for Guston lovers 3 Mar 2005
By T. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This overall is a great book. It might not be the same quality that I have seen in a few other Thames & Hudson publishings, but it still is a great read and summary of Guston's work. Anyone that loves his work, this is for sure a book worth having.
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