Cartoonist Philip Guston’s Early Drawings Revealed in Public Domain – See the Artistic Journey of a Young, Talented Artist from Los Angeles Times Junior Club

Los Angeles, California – Before achieving fame for his distinctive and vibrant figuration, Philip Guston, originally known as Philip Goldstein, began his artistic journey as a member of the art staff of the Los Angeles Times Junior Club at the age of 12. Growing up in Los Angeles as the son of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants, Guston attended Manual Arts High School, where he became friends with a young Jackson Pollock. While at the high school, he joined a youth organization that produced The Junior Times, a Sunday supplement in The Los Angeles Times featuring essays, poems, puzzles, and illustrations by kids, for kids.

During his time with the Junior Club from 1925 to 1929, Guston honed his artistic skills and creativity, contributing drawings that showcased his talent at a young age. His work, including characters like Kolly-Jit and Skinny Slats, reflected his youthful exuberance and showcased his budding artistry. The collaborative environment of the Junior Club provided a platform for Guston and other young artists to explore their talents and engage with their peers.

As Guston’s artistic style evolved over the years, his early drawings from the Junior Club era offered a glimpse into his formative years as an artist. While some of his early works featured racially stereotyped characters, such as Little Snowball, Guston’s later career as a painter delved into more complex and politically charged themes. His social justice paintings from the 1930s, depicting Ku Klux Klansmen in acts of terror, reflected his growing awareness and activism around racial issues.

Guston’s journey from the Junior Club to the leftist John Reed Club marked a shift in his artistic and ideological development. His later return to figuration in the 1960s, including the iconic Klansmen series, invited critical reflection on themes of identity, politics, and social commentary. The complexity of Guston’s later works, including self-portraits behind Klan hoods, sparked debates about the meaning and significance of his artistic legacy.

Through an exploration of Guston’s early drawings and later paintings, a narrative emerges of an artist grappling with personal history, social consciousness, and the complexities of American society. As his work continues to be studied and exhibited in major art institutions, including the Met’s future Tang Wing, Guston’s legacy as an artist dedicated to revealing societal truths remains a subject of ongoing inquiry and interpretation.