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Night Studio: A Memoir Of Philip Guston Paperback – March 22, 1997
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the best book around because it's written by a close family member that an art historian can not explainPublished 5 months ago by allison Anderson
Interesting to hear about his development and various obsessions, but she gets a little whiny about her own story. Read morePublished on March 2, 2013 by LSP NYC
somewhat densely written with much family detail....at times confessional. not written with a great deal of skill but much information on Guston.Published on December 23, 2012 by ronald Yrabedra
Five Stars rating but the review would be buried with the other top reviews. I love the honesty in this book so much that I hated what I read, how many times have we enjoyed an... Read morePublished on October 8, 2012 by Duke of KC
I discovered a real joy for reading in this book. As a previous reviewer said, I too am an artist who gets consumed by the work I make. Read morePublished on July 30, 2010 by An Artist and Guston fan