Collaging Guston & Dubuffet

What fascinates me most about making collages is how disparate elements interact with one another to create something entirely different, unexpected, than the components individually. The process is a mystery that unfolds in front of your eyes. And the artist is the detective. Frequently, some unnoticed mark, color or line in one element interacts with another in a way that hadn’t been anticipated. Collages have this wonderful surprise that keeps me coming back for more (Work/Collages).

In this blog, I wish to create a collage of words chosen, somewhat randomly, from the essays,  lectures or interviews of two of my favorite artists: Philip Guston and Jean Dubuffet. My hope is that the juxtaposition of their words will sharpen our understanding of each artist while also broadening our view of art, and how it is made. 

Jean Dubuffet

Jean Dubuffet

Phillip Guston

Phillip Guston

I will be quoting JD from the MOMA publication The Work of Jean Dubuffet by Peter Selz with texts by the artist, and Philip Guston, Collected Writings, Lectures, and Conversations, edited by Clark Coolidge.

(Pg. 64) JD: “ Surely I aim for beauty, but not that one (e.g., inherited from the Greeks and cultivated by magazine covers). The idea that that there are beautiful objects and ugly objects, people endowed with beauty and others who cannot claim it, has surely no other foundation than conventions—old poppycock—and I declare that convention unhealthy. I enjoy, at any rate, dissociating, to begin with, this pretense of beauty from any object I undertake to paint, starting again from this naught.”

(189)PG “even though it has a feeling of otherness, it seems to me there must be this kind of pull, like an umbilical cord, to an image, to an object. It could be, as you say, a banal or everyday object, but it has to have, somewhat along the line, a feeling of a certain kind of recognition. The recognition must be as if you’ve never seen it before, and yet you have seen it before, perhaps something forgotten.”

(64) JD: “The beauty for which I aim needs little to appear—unbelievably little. Any place—the most destitute—is good enough for it.”

(96) PG: “ Well, I like beauty, I mean, I love beauty. But I’ve always thought beauty takes care of itself… I like a kind of troubled beauty. Baudelaire defines a beautiful woman as always having a deep melancholy on her face, for example…But I don’t think you can control beauty or put in beauty or make beauty. I think this ineffable quality takes care of itself.”

(64) JD “The beauty of an object depends upon how you look at it and not at all on its proper proportions.”

(219) PG: “Somehow, at some point in the process of painting, you…I don’t know any other way to describe it, other than that you close in on your feelings in the painting.”

(29) PG: “The only morality in painting revolves around the moment when you are permitted to ‘see’ and the painting takes over… When you do not paint from things or ideas—when there is no model, in other words—certainly something else is happening, and that is the constant question, 'What is happening?’ ”