“When my father [Philip Guston] returned from a week of tests at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore once, he wrote to Dore Ashton, ‘I thought my organs were rotting away, but no–all in fine shape. I’m supposed to lose weight, stop booze, stop smoking and have no anxieties about life and art. Imagine! I didn’t bother explaining to him that my whole life is based on anxiety–where else does art come from, I ask you?'”
Musa Mayer contextualizes this with a passage from art critic Harold Rosenberg’s The Anxious Object.
“‘The anxiety of art is a philosophical quality,’ Harold Rosenberg concludes, ‘perceived by artists to be inherent in acts of creation in our time. It manifests itself, first of all, in the questioning of art itself. It places in issue the greatness of the art of the past (How really great was it? How great is it for us?) and the capacity of the contemporary spirit to match that greatness. Anxiety is thus the form in which modern art raises itself to the level of human history.'”