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Visual Analysis of Philip Guston's Painting "Painters Forms Ii"

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The modern representation of the garbage that comes in and out of humans mouths. In Philip Guston’s painting “Painters Forms II” laid out with oil on canvas (75 X 108 inches) with images of a big open mouth and teeth, what looks like soles of shoes, and cartoonish cigarettes spilling out. It basically looks like a whole bunch of poles piling out of a mouth, but these “poles” would be considered as legs and shoes. The legs terminate in oval-shapes that resemble shoes or even horseshoes. There is a lot of contour lines used with dark shadows around them used to show depth. The painting is mostly outlined with greys and blacks. The inner and most used colors are lots of pinks and reds. Those are also Guston’s most used colors used in his work. This visual analysis will discuss the analyzation of the different viewpoints that can originate from one single image.

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This painting stood out to me because I really didn’t understand it at first. When I first looked at it I saw a fish, but the more I analyzed it is when the shoes and mouth appeared. It has a lot of the same kind of color in, that caught my eye as well. This art piece is basically Guston throwing out all of the negative qualities of himself. Philip Guston was born in Montreal, Canada, and lived from June 27, 1913, to June 7, 1980. Nobody in the 1970’s really understood Guston’s artworks, especially the Painters Forms II. It was created in 1978 and it currently can be seen at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

After Researching Guston and this specific painting, it came across that it could be viewed as a positive or a negating thing. To him, This artwork symbolizes some of the denial aspects of him and his life. The mouth is a representation of his life itself. At the bottom of the top teeth, there is half a cigarette sticking out. In 1973, Guston developed an excessive habit of needing to smoke 3 packs of cigarettes a day. Eventually, it began to affect his health. Another visual coming out of the mouth is a whole bunch of legs and shoes, that’s mostly what takes up most of the space of the painting. In Philips late teens his older brother got in a car accident in which his legs were crushed, he died instantly. Another possibility for the pile of limbs could also provoke memories of the Holocaust.

To me, after staring at this painting, it came out to me that sort of like Guston, that it exemplifies all the crap that comes out of people. All of the legs or pipe looking things have an oval in the middle of them which display the knees. Legs are one of the most important parts of the body and also has a lot of pressure held on them. Feet as well, they keep us moving. The mouth; no matter what we say, rather if we are smiling or frowning, we have to keep going. All of the bad things people say, we have to keep walking.

All in all the meaning of this art piece has changed significantly over time and will continue to change. Without the large open mouth, this painting would be very confusing to a lot of people, it is the main eye-catcher of this piece. Guston had a very personal connection with his art in many different ways, that is why I chose to analyze this art piece.

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