Saturday, December 09, 2006

I remember falling asleep during a Philip Guston film.


"When I first come into the studio to work, there is this noisy crowd which follows me there; it includes all of the important painters in history, all of my contemporaries, all the art critics, etc. As I become involved in the work, one by one, they all leave. If I'm lucky, every one of them will disappear. If i'm really lucky, I will too."
-Philip Guston

I remember falling asleep in drawing class while Don Kottman(The Coach) enthusiastically showed us some film on Philip Guston. I've never liked Guston's work, and use him as some kind of indicator when talking to other artists. I've just never met anyone who counts Guston as an influence who made good paintings, illustrators maybe, but painters no.
He did say something in that film about the "anyone could do that" response to his work. Something like: "Yes, anyone can do it, but not everyone can do it again again for their whole lives". While his work may speak more strongly to others, and feel to me like wood-paneled basements with stucco walls, his words have jangled around my head for years.

PS. Thank you to the anonymous poster who sent me this quote.

1 comment:

JW Veldhoen said...

I missed a Guston retro in New York. I think it was at the Met. I remember there was a Bruegel exhibit on the first floor of whatever art building it was, and I looked at that with Gabi, and then I left to wander around. I've seen the same movie. Before it, I knew nothing about Guston except seeing a few of the 'hooded' paintings. I had erected a myth about him... a compulsive, obsessive painter, an angry iconoclast who couldn't paint formally... an outsider. Then I see this movie and he's like a trend following Dad, and I'm like, well, fuck. Remember hating much of what he said, for some reason. Also, many of the paintings were plainly bad after you see a bunch of them at once. The painting that 'made' him seems entirely based on a cheap joke. But then, that might just be a false understanding on my part, because I wasn't around to experience the 'impact'. I've had talks with older people about Guston, and they say the effect was enormous.

I think you are right about Guston and illustrators, but also he's taken on by far too many. I like a lot of this stuff, but maybe not all of it: Marc Bell seems silly. D.T. Sandlin, again...

Anyway, interested that you don't like Guston, makes me feel better about it.

PS Made a fool of myself last night at a reading by poet Robin Blaser. Truth is Wil, I don't know shit about Canlit, less about Canadian Art (I know what I like in lit and art, but haven't acquainted myself with nationality at the forefront of my mind) and I know even less about the politics... But Blaser's early essays are amazing, and his reading last night was incredible, considering the man's life, and abstractly, being around a 'community' of artists and writers like assembled last night was sort of touching, nostalgic, even if I didn't know who anyone was...