Philip Guston and smashed candy in the library parking lot

I was walking towards the West Orange Public Library the other day, going through their parking lot towards the front door, when I noticed this bright red splotch on the blacktop of the parking lot. At first glance, from my standing height, it wasn’t clear to me what it was, but it sure did remind me of Philip Guston’s abstract paintings from the early 1950s (an example of which is below right: “Beggar’s Joys,” from 1954–1955).

candy and Philip Guston - a visual comparison

Then I bent down for a closer look, and realized it was smashed-up candy, perhaps some Valentine’s Day candy? And then Philip Guston comes up a second time … because the more-clearly delineated edges of the round candy brought to mind Guston’s 1976 painting, “Cherries II,” as seen below right. The only thing that has changed between the two photos of the smashed candy is how close I am to it, yet the difference in how it looks based on distance creates two completely different reference points to Guston. Kind of strange, or at least interesting, don’t you think?

smashed candy that looks like a Philip Guston painting

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