Philip Guston was born in 1913 in Montreal, Canada, into a Russian Jewish family. In 1919 the family moved to Los Angeles. His mother encouraged him to draw cartoons. Jackson Pollock was a fellow student at the Manual Arts High School. Both of them were expelled for their satiric drawings. In 1930 Guston began to study at the Otis Art Institute, but he left after three months. He studied European art history intensively, and numbered Pablo Picasso, Max Beckmann and Giorgio de Chirico among his models. But he also admired Goya and Rembrandt. His realistic works from this period tend towards social commentary, exploring the picture surface with more abstract concepts. In 1950 he moved to New York, where he came to know Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner and Mark Rothko and moved in their circle of artists. Guston became an important representative of Abstract Expressionism. In 1962 the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York devoted a major retrospective to him. He ultimately broke with abstraction and introduced crude figures and fragments of figures that smoke, drink or even paint as they populate his canvases. In 1967 he moved to Woodstock, where he died in 1980.