City Limits is an iconic artwork by Philip Guston that was created in 1969. The painting, which is an oil on canvas, is characterized by its bold lines and dynamic colours. In City Limits, Guston presents two of his trademark hooded figures, like clowns, piling together into a car as they seem to be headed out to cause trouble in town. In the parallel work, The Studio (1970), he paints himself at the easel in the studio surrounded by alludes to famous artists and subjects from Picasso or Joyce’s Ulysses among other works.
Guston’s series of paintings featuring hooded characters is a unique examination of themes such as violence and mob mentality. He paints these characters as observers that bring forth a darkness even when its source remains invisible to the audience’s eyes. Through its enigmatic subjects, City Limits provides insight into our own moral compasses which can highly influence our decisions for better for for worse in society.
Another important conceptual artwork by Philip Guston is Ancient Wall (1976). This painting depicts a sun-drenched landscape with six ground-level figures standing around with two of them portrayed with their backs facing the viewer; they are part of a mysterious procession engaged in obscure activities. This image was inspired by Guston’s 2004 pilgrimage to Greece and intended to evoke the mysteries of the past while creating an atmosphere between dream and reality.