How Philip Guston Is Influencing a Younger Generation of Artists
Guston’s influence can be seen directly in a wave of contemporary painters: in the transgressive comedy and violence of
Timothy Taylor gallery in London opens its fifth exhibition of Guston’s work this week with an ambitious show of 25 works created between 1959 and 1980. “I see him as a contemporary artist—particularly the body of the work throughout the ’70s. It doesn’t age,” Taylor notes. “The aspiration never lets you down. You never get used to the paintings. I don’t really see him as a historic figure and that’s what resonates with artists.”
Craig Burnett, the author of Philip Guston: The Studio (published by Afterall) thinks Guston’s longevity is partly due to his sense of remove. “Guston represents a way to resist an overall trajectory in history. He was able to step out of this millennial mood of the midcentury. He represents, for a lot of artists, the ability to step away from this feeling that you should be wrapped up in a contemporary moment.”
For many, Guston also represents a way out of the abstract—something that could connect with artists scrambling to crawl out of the process-led abstraction that has dominated the art market in recent years. Guston was successful as a part of the first generation of
Painter Eigen + Art in Berlin, was initially drawn to Guston after seeing a 2004 retrospective at London’s Royal Academy. For him, part of his attraction was Guston’s different approach to speed. “In a world which is so fast-paced and immediate, where everything is slick, the world of consumerism and advertising, which has filtered into the art world, a painter like Guston can be seen as the absolute antithesis—slow burn,” Mosley says.
It’s not just Guston’s approach to painting itself that is reflected by younger artists. As multimedia artist
This isn’t the first or last time when Guston’s work has been reflected in the artwork of a younger generation. “He had a show at the Whitechapel Gallery in the early ’80s. Nick Serota curated it, and Norbert Lynton wrote the catalogue essay. At that time, Peter Doig said that the painters at the time had the ‘Guston Rash.’” Burnett says, laughing. “He gave painters the permission slip to do what they want. To paint sloppily, to paint cartoonishly, to paint personally.”