Skip to main content Start of main content

Craig Burnett on Philip Guston’s The Studio: Lecture and Book Launch

10 nov 2014
Book launch, Public talk
Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, London.

Please join us at Central Saint Martins on Monday 10 November for a lecture by Craig Burnett, author of our new One Work book Philip Guston: The Studio.

Philip Guston’s The Studio (1969) depicts a member of the Ku Klux Klan painting a self-portrait. Darkly comic, crude and complex The Studio is a key work in Guston’s shift from abstract expressionism to his late figurative style.

In his book for our One Work series, Burnett examines Guston’s engagement with the history and limitations of painting during the last decade of his life. Burnett reflects that The Studiosignals not only a broader historical moving away from the medium-centric claims of modernist abstraction but also a personal shift to subject matter that was discursive, playful and carnivalesque. The Studio’s existential ‘play of self’ and ‘Kierkegaardian despair’ is counterbalanced by the lure of compositional coherence to be found within paintings by artists such as Piero della Francesca, among others. Finally Burnett focuses on ‘a passage of supreme poetry’, the column of smoke central to The Studio, its importance as a compositional device and its presence as a ghost of abstraction.

In his lecture Burnett will discuss the challenges involved in writing a book-length study of a single work of art and elaborate further on ideas about the work that have presented themselves since the publication of the book.

Craig Burnett is the author of Jeff Wall (Tate, 2005) and has contributed essays and articles to many a catalogues and magazines. He has previously worked as Curator, Interpretation at Tate Modern and is now a director at Sprüth Magers gallery, London.

Following the lecture, drinks will be served and copies of the book will be available at a special discounted price.

Craig Burnett: Philip Guston’s The Studio
Monday 10 November 2014, 17:30

LVMH Lecture Theatre E002
Central Saint Martins
University of the Arts London
Granary Building
Handyside Street
N1C 4A

This event is free but booking is essential. To reserve a seat please email:

Philip Guston: The Studio by Craig Burnett is part of the One Work series of books, each of which presents a single work of art considered in detail through a single text. To order the book, visit The MIT Press website or your nearest independent bookshop.

This event is presented in conjunction with University of the Arts London Monday Guest Lecture Series.