Ups and Downs

Accession Number

Ups and Downs

Tyree Guyton

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
acrylic on masonite

25 13/16 in x 49 3/4 in (65.56 cm x 126.37 cm);25 5/8 in x 49 5/8 in (65.09 cm x 126.05 cm)

Subject matter
This Detroit-based artist is most well-known for his large-scale installation called "The Heidelberg Project." In “Ups and Downs," two figures, one male and one female, confront the viewer with large smiles. This work was part of a large series of works that depict single and paired figures, called "Faces." The work's title was derived from the purple “tears” that drip down the face of the male figure and upwards on the female figure. Guyton is most interested in thinking about composition more broadly as "to form by putting together." The two gendered figures come together, with juxtaposing directional elements. 

Physical Description
Two abstracted, bust-length figures, one male and one female, look directly at the viewer with large smiles. The background is tan, and filled with swirling lines and scribbles. The face and eyes of each figure are outlined in thick green, the mouths in thick yellow. The “whites” of the eyes are red, while the pupils are circles of pale purple. Purple paint drips down from the eyes of the male figure, while the paint on the female figure drips upward.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

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Abstract (fine arts style)
African American
figures (representations)
folk art (traditional art)
found objects
men (male humans)
outsider art
tear (secretion)
women (female humans)

26 Related Resources

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(Part of: Many Voices)
Detroit-Area Artists
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Fourth Grade Tour: Regions of the United States
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Lawrence, Guyton Essay
(Part of: Understanding Race)
Fourth Grade: Regions of the United States
(Part of: Docent Curricular Tours)
Essay: Guyton 
(Part of: Docent Essays on UMMA Collection Objects)
Tyree Guyton Background
(Part of: Lesson Plans)
C2 - Crasnow - Art and Resistance (brainstorm)
(Part of: Curriculum/Collection)
Star Docent Email
(Part of: Docent Information From Training Continuing Education Sessions)
Curating Covid

& Author Notes

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