Philip Guston. Early Mail Service and Construction of Railroads, 1938. Mural study. Smithsonian American Art Museum. Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Online study days

Guston Now

  • Monday 30 October 2023
  • Lecturer: Ben Street

The Canadian-American artist Philip Guston (1913-1980) is one of the twentieth century’s most influential painters. His US retrospective (London, October 2023) will showcase both the changes and consistencies in his art.

Lecture 1       Guston: Early Years
In the 30s Guston was employed by the US government as part of the Works Progress Administration. Under the influence of Mexican mural painters Guston produced a number of politically engaged murals in the US and Mexico that laid the groundwork for his later production.

Lecture 2       Guston: The Abstract Years
This lecture will look at Guston’s nearly two-decade work as an abstract painter in New York, where he was affiliated with fellow artists such as Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning and Joan Mitchell.

Lecture 3       October, 1970
The opening night of Guston’s solo exhibition in October 1970 was the mythic moment of the artist’s late work. This was the beginning of a decade of intense productivity in a somewhat unprecedented cartoonish figurative mode.

Lecture 4       Guston: the Late Years
This lecture will look at Guston’s final decade, including paintings, prints, drawings, and collaborations with modernist American poets. This was the most productive period of his life.


Ben Street is a freelance art historian, lecturer and writer. He lectures on modern and contemporary art for Tate, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Christie’s Education and the Royal Academy. He is the author of interpretative materials for major exhibitions at Tate, the Royal Academy and the National Gallery and has contributed essays for museum and gallery publications across the world. Ben’s recent book is How to enjoy Art.

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