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Philip Guston, 1969-1979

Tue – Sat, 10 am – 6 pm 9 Sep – 30 Oct 2021


Beginning 9 September 2021, Hauser & Wirth New York will present ‘Philip Guston, 1969-1979’, an exhibition focused on the breakthrough figuration that emerged in the final decade of the 20th century master’s career. Including paintings never before exhibited, this show brings together masterworks after Guston had turned his back on abstraction to assert an unprecedented new figuration. While the critics denounced his dramatic shift toward dark, cartoon-like imagery, the paintings of Guston’s last years are today considered milestones of modern art. These works display not only an exquisite technical mastery, but uncompromising courage in addressing directly the injustices of American society that he’d witnessed since boyhood. Made at the height of his artistic powers, the paintings on view attest to Guston’s enduring influence and astonishing relevance to artists and the general public now.

Including masterworks on loan from museums and private collections, ‘Philip Guston, 1969-1979’ will remain on view through 30 October at Hauser & Wirth’s West 22nd Street building in the Chelsea Arts district.

‘Philip Guston, 1969-1979’ spotlights the confessional intimacy and self-revelation of Guston’s late paintings, with their universal human themes. The exhibition traces the evolution of his representational iconography from 1969, the year of such works as the Tower of Babel-evoking ‘City’ and the appearance of his distinctive hooded figures, avatars of our complicity in the everyday evil of racism and bigotry.  The increasing urgency of Guston’s imagery during the next ten years is evidenced in a richly rendered and unsettling iconography. This distinctive visual language includes disembodied legs, arms bearing shields and pointing fingers, and piles of shoes that summon the horrors of the Holocaust and presage later genocides and racial killings. The brilliance of Guston lies in his ability to convey the persistence – albeit delicate – of hope, with his iconic lightbulb suggesting an eternal potential for illumination.

‘Philip Guston, 1969-1979’ is the latest in an ongoing series of thematic curated exhibitions that Hauser & Wirth has presented internationally since undertaking representation of The Philip Guston Estate in 2015. Yielding new scholarship and bringing attention to specific imperatives and achievements in the artist’s career, these exhibitions began with ‘Philip Guston: Painter 1957-1967’, a 2016 presentation focused upon the last ten years of the artist’s engagement with abstraction. Guston’s searing satirical drawings of Richard Nixon were shown at the gallery in New York in fall 2016, in conjunction with the apocryphal US general election; they were shown again in London in 2017. In 2019, ‘Resilience: Philip Guston in 1971’ was presented at the gallery’s complex in Los Angeles, in a show focused entirely upon the single year following overwhelming critical rejection of the artist’s now legendary 1970 exhibition at Marlborough Gallery. In late 2020, ‘Philip Guston: Transformation’ opened at the gallery’s St. Moritz space, centered on deeply personal works referencing the artist’s wife and the poetry he loved.


Selected Images

Back View II

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About the Artist

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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...

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