Philip Guston’s “death mask” painting of T.S. Eliot


“East Coker-Tse” by Philip Guston

East Coker

T.S. Eliot


In my beginning is my end. In succession
Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended,
Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place
Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass.
Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires,
Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth

Read rest of poem 

Interesting and odd….I just found out about this painting of T.S. Eliot via a New York Times article on the exhibition “Philip Guston and the Poets” at the Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia in Italy: An Iconic American Painter, Re-examined Through Poetry – Kat Herriman – New York Times – May 16, 2017:

“Throughout the show, drawings and paintings are contextualized with stanzas — some are more direct than others. A painting from 1979 called ‘East Coker-Tse’ sits alongside lines from the poem that inspired it, the third installment of Eliot’s ‘Four Quartets.’ ‘It is a death mask of Eliot, but also a kind of self-portrait,’ Mayer explains. ‘He painted it after a heart attack that nearly killed him.’ As if in response, the last line ‘East Coker’ reads: ‘In my end is my beginning.’”

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