Caracas, Museo de Bellas Artes; Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Dibujos y Acuarelas Abstractos USA (organized by the International Council of The Museum of Modern Art), January - March 1962, p. 28, illustrated
Miami, Frances Wolfson Art Gallery, The Spirit of Paper: Twentieth Century Americans, June - July 1982
Davenport, Iowa, Davenport Art Gallery, American Works on Paper: 100 Years of American Art History, (exhibition organized by Smith Kramer Art Connections, toured extensively through the United States), December 1983 - December 1985, cat. no. 36, p. 45, illustrated
New York, Museum of Modern Art, The Drawings of Philip Guston, September - November 1988, cat. no. 35, p. 80, illustrated
Houston, Museum of Fine Arts; The Detroit Institute of Art; Boston, The Museum of Fine Arts; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; San Diego Museum of Art; Miami Center for the Arts, Art Works: The PaineWebber Collection of Contemporary Masters, July 1995 - June 1997
Originally intending to become a comic strip artist, Philip Guston made drawing an integral part of his creative process throughout his fifty year career. A time spent studying Japanese ink drawing familiarized Guston with the use of the quill pen and Japanese bamboo brush which became the primary medium for his drawings. His ink drawings from 1950 presaged the development of work that would cement his position amongst his peers in the Abstract Expressionist movement. Initially consisting of tentative strokes and elements floating in space, Guston quickly became more confident in his application of ink, showing far greater modulation of line and a full engagement of negative space.
Untitled, 1953, is arguably the apex of Guston's use of a wide range of line weights and textures. The gestural strokes and the variation of line thicknesses are a visual record of the act of drawing on the page and catalog the medium's physical properties. It recalls Pollock's mature works, which were a product of his movements above the canvas and the viscosity of the paint dripping from his brushes.
Compositionally, Guston's exploration and testing of the page can be seen in his dalliances with the borders of the page, such as the ragged strokes mirroring the horizontality of the uppermost edge. The bifurcated composition with its concentration of black ink is matched by its negative on the right. Guston defused the prominence of the repeated vertical lines with a series of horizontal cross-hatches and black forms constructed from heavy black ink strokes. The use of vertical and horizontal lines to create tension was no doubt influenced by Mondrian to whom Guston was frequently compared, and who Guston at one time admitted, "cities were on my mind and so was Mondrian." However, the liveliness of Guston's lines guaranteed that his work would never be confused with Mondrian's geometric schematics. Ultimately, the variety of scratches and marks and the full activation of the picture plane coalesce into an archetypal example of Abstract Expressionist work.
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