Guston – Cage – Rothko

“During the last and most productive decade of his life Guston often quoted a remark made to him by John Cage in the 1950’s. ‘When you are working,’ he remembers Cage saying, ‘everybody is in your studio—the past, your friends, the art world, and above all your own ideas… But as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you’re lucky, even you leave.'”  –Michael Auping, Philip Guston, Hatje Cantz, 1999.

“I think of my pictures as dramas: the shapes in the pictures are the performers. They have been created from the need for a group of actors who are able to move dramatically without embarrassment and execute gestures without shame.

Neither the action nor the actors can be anticipated, or described in advance. They begin as an unknown adventure in an unknown space. It is at the moment of completion that in a flash of recognition they are seen to have the quality and function which was intended. Ideas and plans that existed in the mind at the start were simply the doorway through which one left the world in which they occur.”    –Mark Rothko, ‘The Romantics Were Prompted,’ Possibilities 1, 1947-48.