Five Stories For Philip Guston

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Five Stories For Philip Guston

In 1966, after over a decade of making abstractions, Philip Guston abruptly abandoned painting. He started to make drawings of simple things: an iron, a shoe, a nail, an open book. When he started painting again after this brief hiatus, the first image he committed to canvas was this open book, brief brushstrokes standing for lines of text.

Guston was an avid reader of novels, short stories, and philosophy, so it is not surprising that he painted books. What is surprising is how the book paintings made him think anew about narrative, and specifically the potential to tell stories again with his art. There was another prompt: during this period, events in American public life were in turmoil. Having seen firsthand the violence of fascist forces in the 1930s, Guston resolved to commit his work to storytelling once again—but in a new manner.

In this short story collection, five writers working today have created fictions in conversation with Guston and his painting. So many years after his death in 1980, it is clear why his influence remains stronger than ever.

Edited by Emmie Francis & Mark Godfrey Paintings by Philip Guston