Saturday, July 02, 2022

Philip Guston at the MFA - Long Overdue

I didn't think any Guston show could top the Hauser and Wirth exhibition last year, but I was wrong.

The bittersweet mountain in formation: Art Institute of Chicago collection. How well I remember this painting, except for the smudges behind--a row of spectators.

If it Be Not I, Guston's early Iowa, post-WPA narrative.

Krazy Kat comic influence.

Hands and trash-can-lid symbols--cymbals.

Early and late paintings mixed together at the start of the exhibition.

The going gets good with this gray studio painting.

Never before have I seen such a clear progression of visual language in Guston's work.

These red and black stacks have the control of the early work but foresee the mountainous piles of the later work. Their imagery is also joined at the seams, like airplane wings.

Fable, 1956-7

Circa 1968, when Guston goes to Rome, draws with ink for a year, and begins to rethink abstraction.

Returning to Krazy Kat and others, things he knows to be certain.

Piero della Francesca, his greatest influence.

Images of his studio.

His Piero painting.

Detail of his frothy round brush, the sumptious oily liquid quality of generous brushstrokes.

Never before seen drawing.

High on a wall of small paintings.

See Joan Mitchell in this as well. Tearing open skeins of paint, in Guston's case to find image.

Superb. Words unnecessary.