The Indeterminacy of Abstraction: Philip Guston 1947-1951
MetadataShow full item record
Many scholars exclude New York painter Philip Guston (1913-80) from the artistic tradition of Abstract Expressionism due to his absence from New York City during the group's early formative years. This thesis asserts, however, that Guston's role in Abstract Expressionism can be firmly established through his unique interpretation of the formative influence of surrealist automatism. Though never engaging with the surrealists directly, Guston explored automatist ideas upon meeting New York School experimental music composers John Cage and Morton Feldman. This trio's engagement with the Zen Buddhist concepts of unimpededness and interpenetration influenced Guston to create compositions through chance operations, a process Cage would call "indeterminacy." My aim is to enrich an understanding of Guston's idiosyncratic relationship to Abstract Expressionism and, ultimately, to offer a more expansive definition of Abstract Expressionism in general, allowing for a broader understanding of the formation of American modernism.