Philip Guston



In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Philip Guston 1913–1980
Lithograph on paper
Image: 813 × 1079 mm
Purchased 1983

Catalogue entry

P77009 Painter 1980
Lithograph 32 × 42 1/2 (813 × 1079), printed and published by Gemini GEL, Los Angeles
Stamped ‘Philip Guston’ b.r. and inscribed ‘34/50’; impressed with the printer's and publisher's stamp
Purchased from Gemini GEL (Grant-in-Aid) 1983

P11072-P11079 form the complete set of lithographs published by Gemini GEL as the first Guston portfolio in 1980. P07999 and P77009 are from the second and third portfolio respectively. Guston began collaborating with Gemini GEL in November 1979 working on transfer paper and aluminium plates under the guidance of Serge Lozingot. Within two weeks Guston had executed sixteen transfer drawings and plates which were subsequently processed at Gemini GEL and returned to him in December. By this time Guston had completed twenty more images, ten on transfer paper and ten on plates. On 6 December he authorised the printing of fourteen images from the first group and, on 8 February, eleven images from the second group. Seventeen completed editions were signed at the beginning of April 1980. At the time of his death on 7 June 1980 seven editions remained unsigned; these are numbered by Gemini GEL and stamped with an estate stamp authorised by Guston's widow. P77009 is one of these. The three portfolios contain eight, seven and eight lithographs respectively. The first two portfolios were published during Guston's lifetime.

Guston's lithographs incorporate the vocabulary of his late paintings which includes rusty railroad nails, old shoes and shoe heels, bare light bulbs, old automobiles, clothing and the smoking of cigarettes. In works made after 1969 Guston renounced his previous interest in abstraction in favour of ‘a world of tangible things, images, subjects, stories like the way art always was’ (‘Philip Guston Talking’, Philip Guston Paintings 1969–80, exhibition catalogue, Whitechapel Art Gallery, October–December 1982, p.50). These lithographs contain a mixture of reality, fantasy, caricature and naturalistic observation which characterises all of Guston's late work and which endows a biomorphic celebration of life with both pathos and humour.

The composition of some of the lithographs reflects Guston's earlier compositional concerns; ‘Room’ in particular can be directly compared with ‘Design for Queensbridge Housing Project’ 1939 (repr. Whitechapel Art Gallery exhibition catalogue, p.69). A number of the lithographs relate closely to late paintings in terms of title and composition; ‘Coat’, for example, relates to ‘Back View’ and ‘The Coat’ both of 1977 (both repr. ibid. pp.34, 35). The sensuous and rich surface of the late paintings has a direct correlative in the thick and waxy surface of the lithograph.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

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