I adored the Philip Guston 1969-1979 show at Hauser & Wirth on 22nd Street in Chelsea. All eighteen works, in the two brightly lit street level rooms with high ceilings, were from private collections and museums.
The first room had six canvases made in 1969 and 1970. “Prompted by the violence and civil unrest in America during the late 1960s, Guston explores motifs that harken back to his earliest figurative works of the 1930s, in his new world of clunky Ku Klux Klansmen, evil is disguised in the deceptive banality of everyday life. The hooded figures in the six works in this first room are engaged not in the acts of terror but in everyday pursuits, smoking cigars, making plans, driving around in cars. Guston holds up a mirror not only to America’s racist past and present, but dares to examine his own complicity.” (Hauser & Wirth)
The second room had twelve painting made between 1973 and 1979. “The images that emerged during long nights in Guston’s Woodstock studio confounded critics and the public. HIs enigmatic and richly rendered visual language includes disembodied piles of legs and shoes and trash can lids. Fire rains down, bugs infest. Unblinking witness to deeply unsettling and apocalyptic images of genocide and violence, he also paints achingly personal disclosures of loss and aging. Guston’s genius resides in his wildly inventive humor within this dark realm, and his persistent hope in the possibility of creation at the brink of the abyss.” (Hauser & Wirth)
The show at Hauser & Wirth closes on October 30th. Photos, especially mine, do not capture the beauty of Philip Guston’s paintings.