Talking (1979) by Philip Guston

Talking - Philip Guston - 1979

Artwork Information

ArtistPhilip Guston
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions173.9 x 198 cm
Art MovementNeo-Expressionism
Current LocationMuseum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City, NY, US

About Talking

The artwork entitled “Talking” is a creation of artist Philip Guston, completed in 1979. This oil on canvas piece is part of the Neo-Expressionism movement and measures 173.9 by 198 cm in size. Characterized as figurative, the artwork is housed in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, NY, United States.

“Talking” is a vibrant composition with a heavy emphasis on a central, exaggerated form of a hand and forearm. The foreground is dominated by a fleshy, ghostly pale hand with a pink cuff visible, suggesting the edge of a sleeve. The hand, appearing dimensionally flattened, reaches upwards towards a string of tumbling red and yellow objects, which seem to evoke a sense of movement. These objects could be interpreted as symbolic representations or could be read in a more literal sense as a string of objects held or manipulated by the hand, perhaps beads or bulbs in a state of playful or dynamic activity.

Guston’s distinct style in this artwork is characterized by the bold use of color and form. The rich reds and yellows stand starkly against the dark background, enticing the viewer’s attention toward the action taking place in the center. The painting’s surface texture and expressive brushstrokes contribute to the raw and immediate quality that is signature to Neo-Expressionism. The figures in Guston’s work often have a cartoonish, simplified nature, distancing them from the photorealism of other styles and aligning them with expressive modes of painting that convey emotion and symbolic meaning.

Through these formal elements, the artwork communicates a sense of concerted effort or communication, inherent in its title “Talking,” perhaps implying that the objects and hand are in a dialogue or exchange beyond verbal language, reaching into the realm of visual metaphor.

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