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Martial Memory

Philip Guston, American (born Canada), 1913–1980
Oil on canvas
Made in
Iowa City, Iowa, United States, North and Central America
Woodstock, New York, United States, North and Central America
Current Location
On View, Gallery 333
40 1/8 × 32 1/4 in. (101.9 × 81.9 cm)
framed: 49 × 41 × 3 in. (124.5 × 104.1 × 7.6 cm)
Credit Line
Eliza McMillan Trust
© [year of publication] Estate of Philip Guston
Object Number
These resourceful children have turned the urban debris around them into the equipment of war. Their solemn faces, compressed angular forms, and implied violence of their play yield a tension that brings to mind the stress of World War II (1939–1945), then ravaging Europe. Artist Philip Guston depicted the children not in the heat of battle but rather in a moment of solemn conference. Their grave manner reflects the seriousness that underlies every human conflict and provides a view into the deep emotional crisis of their war torn world.
- 1942
Philip Guston, Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY; Iowa City, IA [1]

1942 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from the artist through the American Federation of the Arts [2]

[1] "Martial Memory" was acquired through the American Federation of the Arts in 1942. In a letter dated June 8, 1942, Museum director Perry Rathbone requested the work be sent to St. Louis for consideration of purchase; prior to this request, the work was the property of the artist and was on exhibition with an American Federation of the Arts touring exhibition [letter, SLAM document files].

[2] Subsequent letters between Rathbone and the American Federation of the Arts confirmed that the work would be pulled from the exhibition, "Directions in American Painting," and sent to St. Louis where the Board of Control voted to acquire the work [letter dated June 8, 1942, from P. Rathbone, Museum director to T.C. Parker, American Federation of the Arts; letter dated June 11, 1942 from T.C. Parker to P. Rathbone; letter dated, August 8, 1942 from P. Rathbone to T.C. Parker, SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Administrative Board of Control of the City Art Museum, August 6, 1942.
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