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Phillip Guston

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There are so many things to paint in the world – in the cities – so much to see. Does art need to represent this variety and contribute to its proliferation? Can art be that free? The difficulties begin when you understand what it is that the soul will not permit the hand to make. To paint is always to start at the beginning again, yet being unable to avoid the familiar arguments about what you see yourself painting. The canvas you are working on modifies the previous ones in an unending, baffling chain which never seems to finish. (What sympathy is demanded of the viewer! He is asked to 'see' the future links.
ARTnews Annual, October 1966, pp. 102/103 and 152/153

Phillip Guston

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I don’t like that word 'finish'. When something is finished, that means it’s dead, doesn’t it? I believe in everlastingness. I never finish a painting – I just stop working on it for a while. I like painting because it’s something I never come to the end of. Sometimes I paint a picture, then I paint it all out. Sometimes I’m working on fifteen or twenty pictures at the same time. I do that because I want to – because I like to change my mind so often. The thing to do is always to keep starting to paint, never finishing painting.(1947)

Arshile Gorky

It’s (painting like this – you are in front of your canvas, your hands holds the painting, ready, raised. The canvas waits, waits, empty and white – but all the time it knows what it wants. So – what does it want, anyway? My hand comes near, my eyes begin to transform the waiting canvas; and when – with my hand holding the paint and my eyes seeing the forms – I touch the canvas, it trembles, it comes to life. The struggle begins, to harmonize canvas, eye, hand forms. New apparitions stalk the earth, c. 1953

Karel Appel

..there comes a point when something catches on the canvas, something grips on the canvas. I don’t know what it is, you can put your paint on the surface? Most of the time it looks like paint, and who the hell wants paint on a surface? But there does come a time – you take it off, put it on, goes over here, moves over a foot, as you go closer you start moving in inches not feet, half-inches – there comes a point when the paint doesn’t feel like paint. I don’t know why. Some mysterious thing happens. I think you have all experienced it.. ..What counts is that the paint should really disappear, otherwise it’s craft. That’s what I mean by something grips in a canvas. The moment that happens you are then sucked into the whole thing. Like some kind of rhythm.’

Phillip Guston

In 1946 what I call my ‘Little Image’ began breaking through this (former) gray matter of mine. I felt fantastic relief that something was beginning to happen after all this time when there was nothing, nothing, nothing… …The canvas is down on a floor or table and I am working out of a tiny can. In other words, I have to hold the paint so I can move it. But I wouldn’t have been using Duco (industrial paint, ed.). My paint would always have been oil and I could get the consistency of a thick pouring quality in it by squeezing it into a can and cutting it with turp (turpentine, ed.) – the way I use paint today (1975, ed.)... ...The only thing I can say with absolute assurance is that my ‘Little Image’ work starts about 1946 and ends in 1949.

Lee Krasner

There is imagery. Symbolism is a difficult idea. I’m not a symbolist. In other words, these are painting experiences. I don’t decide in advance that am going to paint a definite experience, but in the act of painting, it becomes a genuine experience for me. It’s not symbolism any more than it’s calligraphy. I’m not painting bridge constructions, skyscrapers or laundry tickets.. ..I don’t paint a given object – a figure or a table; I paint an organization that becomes a painting..’s not these things that get me started on a painting.. (1958)

Franz Kline
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