Philip Guston's Line

Philip Guston, Shoes, 1972, oil on panel, 11 x 14 inches (courtesy of McKee Gall
Philip Guston, Shoes, 1972, oil on panel, 11 x 14 inches (courtesy of McKee Gallery)

John Yau blogs about the exhibition Philip Guston: A Centennial Exhibition at McKee Gallery, New York, on view through April 20, 2013.

Yau writes that "the marvel of the exhibition [is that] — it is all done with line, drawn or in paint. Sometimes the line becomes a rounded shape (a cloud) or a circle (sun). Short horizontal strokes are words in a book or bristly hair sprouting from skinny, naked legs... This is what I love about Guston and his work. He was haunted and did not try to hide it. He had ugly feelings, and was often disappointed. He loved all kinds of things, as his collection of old irons, which frequently appear in his painting, suggests. He loved the old masters and cartoonists equally and was not afraid to bring that love into his work. All he relied on was a line. With it he painted hooded men driving around in cars, transporting corpses and art, as if there were no difference between the two. (They were his symbol for men who hide behind the cloak of dogma, which you would think we should be sick of by now but clearly aren’t.)"