Outskirts (1969) by Philip Guston

Outskirts - Philip Guston - 1969

Artwork Information

ArtistPhilip Guston
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions165.1 x 190.5 cm
Art MovementNeo-Expressionism
Current LocationThe Estate of Philip Guston

About Outskirts

The artwork titled “Outskirts” was created by Philip Guston in 1969. This oil on canvas painting is a representative piece of the Neo-Expressionism movement, depicting what can be categorized within the cityscape genre. It measures 165.1 cm in height by 190.5 cm in width and is part of the “Klansmen” series. The work is currently housed by The Estate of Philip Guston.

In this provocative work, Guston utilizes a predominantly red palette to depict a dense, urban landscape that appears both chaotic and heavily textured. Central to the composition is a large blocky formation reminiscent of a building or architectural structure overwhelmed by a sea of red. This mass is punctured with rows of small, dark windows, which introduce an element of rhythm and order to the otherwise turbulent scene. Below this central motif float several ambiguous, ghostly white hood-like shapes that evoke a sense of foreboding, aligning with the overarching theme of the “Klansmen” series.

The artist’s brushwork is loose and expressive, lending a sense of animation and urgency to the scene. Rather than presenting a realistic depiction of a city, Guston has chosen a symbolic and abstracted approach that conveys a multitude of emotions and creates a dialogue with the viewer about the underlying themes within the work.

Despite the use of familiar cityscape elements, the artwork’s abstract nature and the inclusion of hooded figures suggest a deeper socio-political commentary, a characteristic feature of Guston’s work during this era of his career. The systematic arrangement of the windows against the chaos of the red strokes creates a juxtaposition that may be reflective of underlying tensions and complexities within societal structures.

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