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Description - Night Studio by Musa Mayer

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 its 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 shadow.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780306807671
ISBN-10: 030680767X
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x 21mm)
Pages: 320
Imprint: Da Capo Press Inc
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Publish Date: 1-Mar-1997
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - Night Studio by Musa Mayer

Book Reviews - Night Studio by Musa Mayer

US Kirkus Review » Earnest, occasionally moving but ultimately rather thin and spongy: Mayer's broodings - feminist, psychological - on her unsatisfying relationship with artist-father Philip Guston (1913-1980), filled out with more conventional biographical stitchings (anecdotes, letters, interviews) and commentary on the Guston oeuvre. The artist's early life is sketched in first: childhood in Los Angeles as Philip Goldstein, son of Russian-Jewish immigrants; the suicide by hanging, circa 1924, of his frustrated junkman-father; the quick rise from high-school dropout to acclaimed Depression muralist and "New York school" painter - as "Guston." Very quickly, however, Mayer puts the focus on Guston as husband and father: full of genuine affection, but selfish, private, demanding, tortured yet ruthless in putting his Art ahead of everything else. Musa's mother submissively accepted the role of uncomplaining Artist's wife - abandoning her own career, accepting Guston's self-indulgences (drinking, philandering). Musa grew up craving her father's otherwise-engaged attention, feeling isolated and inadequate, jealous of her parents' folie a deux, jealous also of her father's students. She straggled with "this dumb need to choose - to be the artist's wife, or the artist" - and did in fact marry an artist. But in the 1970's, Mayer discovered feminism and psychology, divorced, went for two years without speaking to her father, reconciled (more or less), and became the older, ailing Guston's "therapist ex officio" - though her parents continued to exclude her from their lives. In writing about Guston's work, especially his disturbing, misunderstood paintings of the 1970's, Mayer sensibly relies on comments by critics and colleagues (though her own published protest against Hilton Kramer's anti-Guston criticism is eloquent). The text is also given some welcome texture by the recollections of friends (including Philip Roth), by several of Mayer's mother's poems, and by excerpts from Guston interviews and letters. Finally, however, this thoughtful montage seems unfocused and off-kilter as a portrait of the artist - and only sporadically involving (primarily in scenes with the ill, hospitalized Guston) in its balanced, intelligent, yet faintly whiny closeup of Guston-family relations. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Musa Mayer

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

Books By Musa Mayer

Night Studio. A Memoir of Philip Guston by Musa Mayer
Paperback, April 2016