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Night Studio: A Memoir Of Philip Guston Paperback – March 22, 1997

4.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Philip Guston (1913-1980) was driven, sustained, and consumed by art. His style ranged from the social realism of his WPA murals through his abstract expressionist canvasses of the 1950s and 1960s (when he counted Pollock, Rothko, de Kooning, and Kline among his friends) to his cartoonlike paintings of Klansmen, disembodied heads, and tangled piles of everyday objects. Critics and public alike savaged Guston for his return to figurative art, but today his late work is recognized for the singular power of his personal, darkly hilarious vision. Musa Mayer augments her firsthand knowledge with extensive interviews with his family, friends, students, and colleagues, as well as Guston's own letters, notes, and autobiographical writings, to re-create a turbulent era in American art. Night Studio, profusely illustrated (including almost a dozen paintings in full color), illuminates not only the life of a great artist, but the experience of growing up in his overwhelming shadow.

About the Author

Musa Mayer is the author of Examining Myself: One Woman's Story of Breast Cancer Treatment and Recovery. She lives in New York City.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1st Da Capo Press ed edition (March 22, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030680767X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306807671
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #505,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Musa Mayer (Guston's daughter) has undertaken a brave and cathartic task in writing a biography of her father, a self-obsessed painter. Philip Guston could well be regarded as the last artist of an era inasmuch as Gustav Mahler could be regarded as the last composer of classical symphonies. With Guston one comes to the end of painting. What started with Cezanne ends here.

Guston knew he wanted to paint in the tradition of those before him and paid a heavy price in order to achieve it. Mayer's account is of a sometimes loving more often absent father who disappointed his daughter so much so that this book is also an attempt at healing wounds. Guston appears as a larger than life figure with equally large depressive states through which into the small hours he would struggle with his canvases.

Mayer is neither maudlin nor sentimental and for a few pages here and there gives crystalline insights into her father's work that any artist should appreciate.

This then is not your typical soup to nuts biography but rather a personal view of Guston as seen through the pained eyes of one trying to purge as well as admire.
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Night Studio is a wonderful book.

Let me start with what it is not: it is not an art historical survey of Philip Guston's career; it is not a philosophical essay on the meaning of his art. Nor do you have to be an all-out fan of Philip Guston's to read it.

On the other hand, it is an almost day-to-day account of a daughter's life in the shadow of her father who happened to be one of the greatest American painters of the XXth century. The author managed to write a moving book, describing the overwhelming and complex personality of her father, the conflicts, the anguish, the contradictions, the closeness and, at the same time, the aloofness that made her life next to Guston so rewarding but also so frustrating. You can sense the admiration of a daughter towards her father, but also the weariness of having to fight a formidable rival, art, to gain some space in the life of this larger-than-life father.

This is a book that you only drop when reaching the last page.
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Format: Paperback
"Night Studio" is not only a compelling portrait of a great artist, but also a riveting story about life with an artist consumed and obsessed by his work. Plus, there's lots of cool pictures. This is NOT a dry biography.
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Format: Paperback
As a painter, consumed by my own work at times, this book was such a treat. A wonderful and compelling look at one of the most influential artists of my career thus far. so emotional and real.
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Format: Paperback
This is the book famous fathers should find the time to read but never will. So it falls to their children to read it, and to one of those grown and gifted children to write it. "Night Studio" says more about the life of artists and their work, and the families who are a part of both, than one is likely to encounter elsewhere. And it's a great read too, since it's beautifully written and centered on a period in American art that still fascinates. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
Night Studio is an excellent read about one of the more fascinating and well thought out artist's in american history, Philip Guston. From the very personal standpoint only one year after Guston's premature death at the age of 66, Meyer shows both a historical and emotional view of her father.

As Guston did in his art, Meyer attempts to explain her father's life as honestly as she can. Sometimes critical sometimes idolizing his character and persona, Guston nonetheless comes off as a very fascinating and mysterious figure. Meyer puts plenty on the table to digest about his life in a very tasteful way despite some of his discrepancies.

Dispersed through the book are some of Guston's philosophical views as well as some of his contemporaries which are very fascinating in light of the more detached design/invention philosophy of today's modern art. We follow his career through the WPA program, the abstract expressionism movement and the boom of conceptual and pop art.

There is plenty of Guston's personal life as well. Although an extremely private man, we get a glimpse of his life through notes found in the studio, recollections from friends, family and Meyer herself.

The writing is sometimes confessional sometimes traditional storytelling. The stories themselves aren't always in chronological order which meant I had to refer back once or twice to get a hold on where I was in his life but I think it came together quite nicely.

Highly recommended.
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