This is the premier collection of dialogues, talks, and writings by Philip Guston (1913–1980), one of the most intellectually adventurous and poetically gifted of modern painters. Over the course of his life, Guston’s wide reading in literature and philosophy deepened his commitment to his art—from his early Abstract Expressionist paintings to his later gritty, intense figurative works. This collection, with many pieces appearing in print for the first time, lets us hear Guston’s voice—as the artist delivers a lecture on Renaissance painting, instructs students in a classroom setting, and discusses such artists and writers as Piero della Francesca, de Chirico, Picasso, Kafka, Beckett, and Gogol.
Clark Coolidge has published many volumes of poetry and a collaboration with Philip Guston, Baffling Means: Writings/Drawings. Dore Ashton is Professor of Art History at the Cooper Union. Her many books include A Critical Study of Philip Guston, available from UC Press.
“This hefty volume is 344 pages of smart art takes (Clark Coolidge, ed.) by the largely self-taught painter who, with pal Jackson Pollock, got expelled from L.A.’s Manual Arts High School in 1929.”—Christopher Knight Los Angeles Times, Culture Watch Blog
“This is a book of wisdom, not only for artists but for anyone seeking to learn something from art.”—The Nation
“Expansive”—San Francisco Bay Guardian
“Until now his influence has been through his art rather than his words. This collection gathers together interviews and studio discussions and commits the artist’s words to print.—Alexander Adams Art Newspaper
“[Guston’s] voice at its effusive best.”—Jewish Exponent
"This volume introduces the diverse voices that comprise Guston's linguistic tapestry. Guston never stopped talking for too long. There may have been periods of silence precipitated by existential moments of doubt, but such lapses seem anomalous when measured against the voluminous transcriptions gleaned and edited by Clark Coolidge. Coolidge has done an admirable job arranging and presenting the book's contents, entirely relevant to anyone curious about Guston, and by extension, American Art of the post-World War II period."—Douglas Dreishpoon, chief curator at Knox-Albright Gallery