Skip to main content

Philip Guston

Painting Smoking Eating

4.6.2014 - 7.9.2014

Philip Guston (1913-1980) is one of the most important American painters from the second half of the 20th century.  He is the great master of black humour, a painters’ painter with cult status among many younger artists.

Summer 2014 Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, which also showed the exhibition Philip Guston with his works on paper in 2007, showed his late works with a presentation of 86 paintings and drawings.

At the end of the 1940s and throughout the 1950s the American painter Philip Guston (1913-1980) was a highly respected member of the Abstract Expressionist circle of painters in New York. But in his late work – from around 1968 until his death in 1980 – he changed his mode of expression dramatically and entirely abandoned abstraction for a strikingly figurative, almost comic-strip-like visual idiom. Guston thus also became a standard-bearer for the revival of the figurative tradition in American art in the 1970s and 1980s.

The exhibition was organized by Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt in collaboration with Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and Deichtorhallen Hamburg / Sammlung Falckenberg.

C.L. Davids Fond og Samling supported the exhibition.

About Philip Guston

Philip Guston, whose Jewish family fled Odessa for Canada at the beginning of the twentieth century, is an existential artist. Everywhere in his visual world there is a vibrant sensitivity – even though the pictures may appear both abstract and ironic.

In the 1950s the self-taught Guston gained a marginal foothold in the New York art scene and won recognition as an Abstract Expressionist alongside painters like Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko. 

But in the mid-sixties Guston changed direction and began to work figuratively. His choice of colours and subjects stood out, and his caricatured and sometimes grotesque human figures, inspired by among other things the universe of the comic strip, were unusual and aroused discussion and a historic scandal at the opening of an exhibition at the Marlborough in 1970.
After this Guston left the art scene and moved away from the city, continuing to paint and draw. Only shortly before 
his death in 1980 was a major retrospective exhibition of his works held in San Francisco. This brought him recognition both as an artist and as a precursor of the figurative painting of later times.