Bringing to mind the aggressively expressive works of Jean Dubuffet, Guston integrates the elements of the figure and landscape in Untitled, 1970. Both Guston and Dubuffet revel in the stuff of the earth and the sometimes jarring combinations of material and form. Untitled is a new creation, landscape presented in the guise of "portraiture" or more correctly "caricature." Passages of this drawing recall the theme and forms of a monumental work titled The Cellar, also dating from 1970. Like Untitled, The Cellar depicts the limbs of figures half exposed concealing their true identity and creating an awkward, ambiguous moment--part detective story, part pure painting. Both works contain storylines with bits of moral decrepitude and psycho-social commentary, each character acting out of shame, embarrassment or malaise. Guston's paintings are undoubtedly a self-portrait in some fashion or another.
Guston was regarded as a master of sublime abstraction from the early days of New York School painting alongside his contemporaries such as de Kooning, Rothko, Reinhardt and Grace Hartigan, all of whom exhibited together regularly in the 1950s and 1960s. By 1970 Guston had shrugged off his dialogue with pure abstraction and criticized it's dogmatic theories through public debate as well as private practice in his studio. Even earlier, Hartigan had been incorporating imagery within her works and was thought to be inconsistent and even indecisive by her female contemporaries, Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler. It is apparent that Guston saw in Hartigan a fellow traveler in the void, a soulmate in a creative journey through time. However, the actual subject of this drawing could only be freedom as both Guston and Hartigan would have known. Both artist's shared a mutual respect for one another as is exemplified through Guston's gift of Untitled to Grace Hartigan during the seventies; at a pivotal time in which Guston heard many words of criticism and few words of encouragement.