Philip Guston
1913–1980

Introduction

Philip Guston (born Phillip Goldstein, June 27, 1913 – June 7, 1980) was a Canadian American painter, printmaker, muralist and draftsman. "Guston worked in a number of artistic modes, from Renaissance-inspired figuration to formally accomplished abstraction," and is now regarded as one of the "most important, powerful, and influential American painters of the last 100 years." He frequently depicted racism, antisemitism, fascism and American identity, as well as, especially in his later most cartoonish and mocking work, the banality of evil. In 2013, Guston's painting To Fellini set an auction record at Christie's when it sold for $25.8 million.

Guston was a founding figure in the mid-century New York School, which established New York as the new center of the global art world, and his work appeared in the famed Ninth Street Show and in the avant-garde art journal It is. A Magazine for Abstract Art. By the 1960s, Guston had renounced abstract expressionism and was helping pioneer a modified form of representational art known as neo-expressionism. "Calling American abstract art 'a lie' and 'a sham,' he pivoted to making paintings in a dark, figurative style, including satirical drawings of Richard Nixon" during the Vietnam War as well as several paintings of hooded Klansmen, which Guston explained this way: "They are self-portraits … I perceive myself as being behind the hood … The idea of evil fascinated me … I almost tried to imagine that I was living with the Klan." The paintings of Klan figures were set to be part of an international retrospective sponsored by the National Gallery of Art, the Tate Modern, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 2020, but in late September, the museums jointly postponed the exhibition until 2024, "a time at which we think that the powerful message of social and racial justice that is at the center of Philip Guston's work can be more clearly interpreted."

The announcement spurred an open letter, published online by The Brooklyn Rail and signed by more than 2,000 artists. It criticizes the postponement and the museums' lack of courage to display or attempt to interpret Guston's work, as well as the museums' own "history of prejudice". It calls Guston's KKK themes a timely catalyst for a "reckoning" with cultural and institutional white supremacy, and argues that that is why the exhibition must proceed without delay. On October 28, 2020, the museums announced earlier exhibition dates starting in 2022.

Wikidata identifier

Q701952

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Information from Wikipedia, made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Accessed May 13, 2024.

Introduction

He attended the Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles 1927-1928, followed by the Otis Art Institute, 1930. He was expelled from Otis after three months, but it was there that he began his friendship with Jackson Pollock. From this period on Guston was self-taught. After a figurative period, in the manner of Mexican mural artists, Guston became involved in the development of American Abstract Expressionism. In 1968 he made a radical return to figuration, waiting until 1970 to reveal this work publicly. These new cartoon-like works were not well-received when first shown, but have become highly regarded over time.

Country of birth

Canada

Roles

Artist, engraver, lithographer, muralist, painter

ULAN identifier

500023901

Names

Philip Guston, Philip Goldstein, Phillip (birth name - used before 1935) Goldstein

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Information from the Getty Research Institute's Union List of Artist Names ® (ULAN), made available under the ODC Attribution License. Accessed May 13, 2024.