In 1962 the Guggenheim Museum mounted a major retrospective of Guston's work. At this time, Guston's abstract paintings had achieved a new resolution between figure and ground through a dramatic separation of the two. Turning away from the delicate synthesis that he had sought in his previous works, Guston focused instead on the blocky shapes that came to dominate his compositions and the monochromatic space between them. This development in his compositions resulted from a simplification in working methods, which he described to Harold Rosenberg as follows:
"I use white and black pigment; white pigment is used to erase the black I don't want and becomes grey. Working with these restricted means as I do now, other things open up which are unpredictable, such as atmosphere, light, illusion--elements which do seem relevant to the image but have nothing to do with color" (quoted in H. Rosenberg, "Philip Guston's Object: A Dialogue with Harold Rosenberg," Philip Guston: Recent Paintings and Drawings, New York, 1966, pp. 42-43).