Philip Guston Now

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A sweeping retrospective  of Philip Guston’s influential work, from Depression-era muralist to  abstract expressionist to tragicomic contemporary master

Philip  Guston―perhaps more than any other figure in recent memory―has given  contemporary artists permission to break the rules and paint what, and  how, they want. His winding career, embrace of “high” and “low” sources,  and constant aesthetic reinvention defy easy categorization, and his  1968 figurative turn is by now one of modern art’s most legendary  conversion narratives. “I was feeling split, schizophrenic. The war,  what was happening in America, the brutality of the world. What kind of  man am I, sitting at home, reading magazines, going into a frustrated  fury about everything―and then going into my studio to adjust a red to a  blue?”

And so Guston’s sensitive abstractions gave way to large,  cartoonlike canvases populated by lumpy, sometimes tortured figures and  mysterious personal symbols in a palette of juicy pinks, acid greens,  and cool blues. That Guston continued mining this vein for the rest of  his life―despite initial bewilderment from his peers―reinforced his  reputation as an artist’s artist and a model of integrity; since his  death 50 years ago, he has become hugely influential as contemporary art  has followed Guston into its own antic twists and turns.

Published to accompany the first retrospective museum exhibition of Guston’s career in over 15 years, Philip Guston Now  includes a lead essay by Harry Cooper surveying Guston's life and work,  and a definitive chronology reflecting many new discoveries. It also  highlights the voices of artists of our day who have been inspired by  the full range of his work: Tacita Dean, Peter Fischli, Trenton Doyle  Hancock, William Kentridge, Glenn Ligon, David Reed, Dana Schutz, Amy  Sillman, Art Spiegelman and Rirkrit Tiravanija. Thematic essays by  co-curators Mark Godfrey, Alison de Lima Greene and Kate Nesin trace the  influences, interests and evolution of this singular force in modern  and contemporary art―including several perspectives on the 1960s and  ’70s, when Guston gradually abandoned abstraction, returning to the  figure and to current history but with a personal voice, by turns comic  and apocalyptic, that resonates today more than ever.


  • Publisher :  D.A.P./National Gallery of Art; Illustrated edition (June 2, 2020) 
  • Language :  English 
  • Hardcover :  280 pages