Philip Guston: Nixon Drawings, 1971 & 1975
Philip Guston‘s late figurative paintings were met with overwhelmingly negative critical response when first shown at Marlborough Gallery in New York City in October 1970. After the opening, Guston fled to Italy with his wife, spending eight months at the American Academy in Rome. The following spring, Guston returned to a wounded America, still at war in Vietnam, devastated by the assassinations of its leaders, and divided by antiwar protests and the social and political upheavals begun in the 1960s. It was Richard Nixon’s first term as president.
Guston’s outpouring of satirical drawings was inspired partly by conversations with his friend Philip Roth, at work on his own scathing Nixon satire, ‘Our Gang’. “When I came back from Europe in the summer of 1971,” Guston later said, “I was pretty disturbed about everything in the country politically, the administration specifically, and I started doing cartoon characters. And one thing led to another, and so for months I did hundreds of drawings and they seemed to form a kind of story line, a sequence.” Completed during July and August 1971, these drawings were not publicly shown for three decades.
In 1975, after the Watergate scandal led to Nixon being forced to resign under threat of impeachment, Guston created more drawings and a final painting with Nixon as subject: ‘San Clemente’. This book gathers this extraordinary body of work for the first time in its entirety.
This catalogue is released following the exhibition at Hauser & Wirth in New York from 1 November 2016 to 28 January 2017 and accompanying the exhibition at Hauser & Wirth in London from 19 May to 29 July 2017.