September 14 - January 5, 2020
Beginning 14 September, Hauser & Wirth will present the first solo Los Angeles exhibition in over half a century dedicated to American artist Philip Guston. ‘Resilience: Philip Guston in 1971’ sheds light on a single pivotal year that launched Guston into the final prolific decade of his career, during which he painted what are now celebrated as some of the most important works of art of the 20th Century. On view will be two major series, the Roma paintings and the Nixon drawings, accompanied by a select group of larger works. Created immediately after the overwhelming critical rejection of his new figurative work, exhibited in October 1970 at Marlborough Gallery in New York City for the first time, during a time of social and political turmoil in the United States, these works bear witness to an artist at the height of his powers, exquisitely responsive to his world. On view through 5 January 2020, ‘Resilience: Philip Guston in 1971’ is curated by the artist’s daughter, Musa Mayer, and will be accompanied by a new publication.About the Exhibition The year 1971 marks a critical junction in Philip Guston’s artistic career, telling a story of renewal, invention, and outrageous satire through two major series, the Roma paintings and the Nixon drawings, as well as a select group of larger paintings. Speaking about his controversial transition, when Guston left behind the elegant abstractions that had earned him critical acclaim to explore strange new territory, he explained to a group of students how crucial doubt and self-questioning were to an artist’s creative process, saying ‘It’s taken me many years, but I’ve come to the conclusion that the only ‘technique’ one can really learn is the capacity to be able to change.’ The works in this exhibition not only define a watershed moment for Guston, but also the artistic and political climate of the United States in 1971. When Philip Guston first exhibited his new figurative work at the Marlborough Gallery in October 1970, the critical response was resoundingly negative. ‘Clumsy.’ ‘Embarrassing.’ ‘Simple-minded.’ ‘An exercise in radical chic.’ The New York Times headline referred to the artist as ‘A mandarin pretending to be a stumble-bum.’ The paintings in the Marlborough show were created in 1968-1970, a time of despair and upheaval in the US, following the assassination of the Kennedys, of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Our leaders were being murdered, our inner cities were rife with looting and rioting, war protesters filled our streets. The country was divided, and the death toll was mounting in Vietnam. But in the art world, disaffection ruled the day. In an era of cool minimalism and Pop Art ironies, the passions of the real world were to have no place in art, the critics had decreed. Guston disagreed, famously saying: ‘I got sick and tired of all that purity—I wanted to tell stories!’ And what stories he told, with his Klansmen, ominous but somehow familiar, perhaps even ourselves under those hoods, as suggested in ‘Untitled’ (1971), which features a fleshy head enclosed by two hooded figures. This was not the path of refinement a leading abstract expressionist painter should be taking, yet Guston pushed forward: challenging tradition and expectations, guided solely by his own intuition and determination. Guston and his wife left for Italy immediately after the 1970 Marlborough opening, taking up residency at the American Academy in Rome over the next seven months. He spent the first two months brooding, despairing at the reviews and the rigidity of the art world, and revisiting the great art of the past that had first moved him to paint as a young man. At the start of the new year, he finally set to work in his studio at the Academy. What emerged was a rich series of timeless and lovely oils on paper inspired by Roman ruins and landscapes. Informed by Guston’s re-immersion in art and antiquity, evidence of his surroundings—such as the piling up of bricks at ancient sites depicted in ‘Untitled (Roma)’ (1971), or the monumental disembodied marble foot illustrated in ‘Untitled (Foot on Wall)’ (1971)—is ever-present within the Roma series. But all such respites come to an end. In May of 1971, Guston returned to the turmoil in America, to his studio in Woodstock, in upstate New York. It was Richard Nixon’s first term as president and the scandal of The Pentagon Papers was unfolding daily in the pages of The New York Times and Washington Post, documenting decades of government deception concerning the war in Vietnam. The Nixon administration was fighting to suppress these disclosures. A response was imperative. ‘What kind of man am I, sitting at home, reading magazines, going into frustrated fury about everything – and then going into my studio to adjust a red to a blue?’ He and writer friend Philip Roth spent long hours talking. Roth had just completed his sendup of the Nixon administration, ‘Our Gang.’ The potency of satire in the history of art, from Tiepolo to Goya to Hogarth to Picasso, was not lost on Guston. Within a couple of months, over two hundred wildly satirical drawings flowed from his pen, from which Guston selected 73 as a sort of narrative of Nixon’s life from boyhood to his ascent to the presidency. Entitled ‘Poor Richard,’ Guston described this series, saying, ‘I start with [Nixon] as a little boy. Whittier. You know, I grew up near Whittier, a little town. And I’m about Nixon’s age.’ How could a boy the same age, growing up nearby in California in similar humble circumstances and dreaming of greater things, possess such dark ambition and capacity for evil? In these drawings, Guston first explored much of the imagery that would later take form over the next decade in his paintings. The Nixon drawings were never exhibited in Guston’s lifetime and in fact went unpublished until more than two decades after his death in 1980. ‘He wasn’t sure about whether to go public with them,’ Philip Roth recalled when the entire series was exhibited at Hauser & Wirth in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. ‘I think he didn’t want to be sullied as a cartoonist. But actually, the people who didn’t like those wonderful last paintings sullied him as a cartoonist anyway.’ As disparate as the Roma paintings and the Nixon drawings from 1971 at first appear to be, they clearly show an artist at the height of his inventive powers, exquisitely responsive to his world. He stands alone, at a critical point of resilience and renewal in his work, as he readies himself to move forward into the final prolific decade of his career, when he was to paint what are now rightly celebrated as some of the most important works of art of the 20th Century. As part of the exhibition, newly discovered 1971 footage from filmmaker Michael Blackwood of Guston and his poet friend, Clark Coolidge, discussing the Roma paintings, will be shown in a 19 minute film entitled ‘Moving in Another Direction.’ A select group of larger paintings from 1971 – 1973 clarifies the source and evolution of Guston’s imagery in his next works. – Top image: Film still of Philip Guston in his Woodstock studio, summer 1971, from footage by Michael Blackwood Productions
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Join us for an evening of art & celebration to benefit the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund on Monday 23 September at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles. The evening will feature a cocktail hour in the garden with a private view of the exhibition ‘Resilience: Philip Guston in 1971’ along with a talk from the artist's daughter and exhibition curator, Musa Mayer. The special presentation will be followed by dinner at Manuela. Proceeds raised will directly sustain NBCC’s mission to end breast cancer. Click here to purchase tickets. All attendees will receive a copy of the newly released ’Resilience: Philip Guston in 1971,’ by Musa Mayer, donated by Hauser & Wirth Publishers. Published on the occasion of Philip Guston's exhibition at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles, ‘Resilience: Philip Guston in 1971’ presents an essay authored by Musa Mayer, Guston’s daughter, that offers an intimate view of her father’s state of mind during 1971 — a year defined by the artist’s stalwart resilience and creative reinvention.
Join us for the public opening of the first solo Los Angeles exhibition in over half a century dedicated to American artist Philip Guston. ‘Resilience: Philip Guston in 1971’ sheds light on a pivotal year that launched Guston into the final prolific decade of his career, during which he painted what are now celebrated as some of the most important works of art of the 20th Century. On view will be key examples from two major series, the Roma paintings and the Nixon drawings, that together tell a story of artistic renewal and invention. Created in the wake of resoundingly negative reviews garnered by his 1970 exhibition at the Marlborough Gallery in New York City – ‘Clumsy.’ ‘Embarrassing.’ ‘Simple-minded.’ – and during a time of social and political turmoil in the United States, these figurative paintings and narrative satirical drawings bear witness to an artist at the height of his powers, exquisitely responsive to his world. ‘Resilience: Philip Guston in 1971’ is curated by the artist’s daughter, Musa Mayer, and will be accompanied by a new publication.
On the occasion of the exhibition and accompanying publication, Hauser & Wirth will host a reading with Musa Mayer, curator of the exhibition and daughter of the artist. She will read selections from her new book ‘Resilience: Philip Guston in 1971’ from Hauser & Wirth Publishers. The reading will offer an intimate view of Philip Guston’s state of mind during 1971 — a year defined by the artist’s creative reinvention and resilience following the scathing reviews of his new work first exhibited at Marlborough Gallery in October 1970. A book signing will follow the reading, and copies of ‘Resilience: Philip Guston in 1971’ will be available for purchase. This event is free, however, reservations are recommended. Click here to register. About Musa Mayer Musa Mayer’s first book about her father, a memoir entitled ‘Night Studio’, was published in 1988 by Alfred A. Knopf and republished in a new edition in 2016 when Hauser & Wirth took over the representation of the Estate of Philip Guston from the McKee Gallery. Since Musa’s retirement from a twenty-five-year career as an acclaimed research and patient advocate for people living with advanced breast cancer, she has curated two exhibitions of Guston’s satirical Nixon drawings in New York and London, as well as a survey exhibition in Hong Kong. ‘Resilience’ is her third book with Hauser & Wirth Publishers. The second, ‘Philip Guston: Nixon Drawings 1971 and 1975,’ coauthored with Debra Bricker Balken, was awarded the FILAF d’Or international prize as the best international art book of 2017. Besides managing the Estate of Philip Guston, Musa is President of The Guston Foundation. Current Foundation projects include the website PhilipGuston.org, built around a Catalogue Raisonné of the paintings, and collaboration in the upcoming retrospective, ‘Philip Guston Now’, due to open in June 2020 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, that will travel to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Tate Modern in London, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Musa lives in New York city, with her husband, Tom.
Monday Evening Concerts, one of the longest running series in the world devoted to contemporary music, joins Hauser & Wirth to present a one-night-only performance of Morton Feldman’s ‘For Philip Guston.’ This event celebrates the first solo Los Angeles exhibition in over half a century dedicated to American artist Philip Guston, ‘Resilience: Philip Guston in 1971,’ curated by the artist’s daughter, Musa Mayer. Composed in 1984, ‘For Philip Guston,’ a nearly five-hour trio, is Morton Feldman’s poignant homage to Guston, touching on friendship, intransigence, affection, memory, loss, and love. This event is free to attend and reservations are required. Extremely limited seating is first come first served throughout the evening, with ample standing room. Guests are encouraged to come and go throughout the performance. Click here to book your spot. Program Durational performance within the exhibition ‘Resilience: Philip Guston in 1971’ Morton Feldman - ‘For Philip Guston’ (1984) 6.30 – 11 pm Christine Tavolacci, flutes Brendan Nguyen, piano and celesta Jonathan Hepfer, percussion Make a reservation for dinner at Manuela before or during the performance. About Monday Evening Concerts Founded in 1939, Monday Evening Concerts (MEC) is one of the longest running series in the world devoted to contemporary music. MEC has gained international admiration for its presentation of music frequently new, sometimes old and always uniquely stimulating. Musical history is made at Monday Evening Concerts, whether it was the American debut of Pierre Boulez, world premieres of Igor Stravinsky, or the appearances here of such artists as Marino Formenti and the Arditti Quartet. Presenting the finest local and visiting artists, MEC is the place to hear adventurous new music in Los Angeles. Monday Evening Concerts is a seven-time national winner of the ASCAP/Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming and is the subject of a full-length book entitled "Evenings On and Off the Roof," written by Dorothy Lamb Crawford. About Jonathan Hepfer Jonathan Hepfer (b. 1983) is a percussionist, conductor, and concert curator specializing in avant-garde and experimental music. He is the artistic director of Monday Evening Concerts in Los Angeles, on which he performs regularly. There, he has taken part in the US premieres of major works by Salvatore Sciarrino, György Kurtág, Rolf Riehm, Jo Kondo, Aldo Clementi, Klaus Lang, Ramon Lazkano, Francisco Guerrero, Thomas Meadowcroft and Simon Steen-Andersen. His collaborators on these concerts have included such luminaries as Alexei Lubimov, Natalia Pschenitschnikova, Mario Caroli and Nicholas Isherwood. As a soloist, Jonathan has focused extensively on the works of the composers Pierluigi Billone, Walter Zimmermann, Iannis Xenakis, Brian Ferneyhough, Helmut Lachenmann, Giacinto Scelsi, Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf, Georges Aperghis and Vinko Globokar. He has given solo performances at the Stone in New York, Harvard University, the Tonhalle Düsseldorf (Germany), the Odessa Philharmonic Theater (Ukraine), and the National History Museum in Ulan Bator (Mongolia). Notable projects have included performing Pierre Boulez' Le marteau sans maître in Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Israel and New York (often under the direction of the composer), music-directing a live performance of Samuel Beckett's radio play Words and Music in Los Angeles, performing Morton Feldman's Crippled Symmetry and For Philip Guston in Buffalo, San Diego, Freiburg, and Marfa (Texas), and performing in a production of Shakespeare's Othello at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, directed by Barry Edelstein. Jonathan has participated in academic residencies at Harvard, Oberlin, SUNY Buffalo, and the universities of Minnesota, Huddersfield and Leeds. He has contributed articles to Percussive Notes and Die Musik von Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf. Jonathan has also had the privilege of documenting the oral histories of the first generation of eminent European percussion soloists (namely, Christoph Caskel, Sylvio Gualda, Jean-Pierre Drouet, Gaston Sylvestre, Maurizio Ben-Omar). From 2015-2018, he served on the faculty of CalArts.
Join us for a weekend-long screening of ‘Philip Guston: A Life Lived’ on the occasion of the first solo Los Angeles exhibition in over half a century dedicated to American artist Philip Guston, ‘Resilience: Philip Guston in 1971.’ In this documentary film directed by Michael Blackwood and produced in 1981, the artist speaks candidly about the philosophy of his painting and the psychological motivations for his work. ‘Philip Guston: A Life Lived’ Directed by Michael Blackwood 58 minutes This drop-in event is free and the film will play on a loop throughout the day on Saturday 23 November and Sunday 24 November in Hauser & Wirth’s Education Loft. About Philip Guston Philip Guston (1913 – 1980) is one of the great luminaries of twentieth-century art. His commitment to producing work from genuine emotion and lived experience ensures its enduring impact. Guston’s legendary career spanned a half century, from 1930 to 1980. His paintings – particularly the liberated and instinctual forms of his late work – continue to exert a powerful influence on younger generations of contemporary painters.