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Philip Guston Now Exhibition Update

Message from Sally Radic, Executive Director of The Guston Foundation:

On September 21, the directors of the four museums that have been planning to present the major retrospective Philip Guston Now in 2021-22 announced online that they will “postpone the exhibition until a time at which we think that the powerful message of social and racial justice that is at the center of Philip Guston’s work can be more clearly interpreted.” The opening date for the “reframed” and “reconsidered” project is to be set for sometime in 2024. The exhibition has already been postponed once, by almost a year, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Its catalogue was already published this past June.  

Reactions to the announcement have appeared extensively in media outlets and on social media.

We share with you below a statement from Musa Mayer, President of The Guston Foundation and daughter of Philip Guston, that was written in response to media requests for comment. We have also provided links to coverage at a number of publications, including news reports as well as opinion articles. 

As always, the Foundation is committed to raising awareness and educating the public about the art and life of Philip Guston, and we will continue to share information through this website and other projects, and to encourage the direct experience of Guston’s art, to further these goals.

Statement from Musa Mayer

September 23, 2020

I am deeply saddened by the decision of the museum directors not to exhibit the Philip Guston Now retrospective.

Half a century ago, my father made a body of work that shocked the art world. Not only had he violated the canon of what a noted abstract artist should be painting at a time of particularly doctrinaire art criticism, but he dared to hold up a mirror to white America, exposing the banality of evil and the systemic racism we are still struggling to confront today. 

In these paintings, cartoonish hooded figures evoke the Ku Klux Klan. They plan, they plot, they ride around in cars smoking cigars. We never see their acts of hatred. We never know what is in their minds. But it is clear that they are us. Our denial, our concealment. They are even the artist, as the most well-known work of this series makes clear. My father dared to unveil white culpability, our shared role in allowing the racist terror that he had witnessed since boyhood, when the Klan marched openly by the thousands in the streets of Los Angeles. As poor Jewish immigrants, his family fled extermination in the Ukraine. He understood what hatred was. It was the subject of his earliest works. 

This should be a time of reckoning, of dialogue. These paintings meet the moment we are in today. The danger is not in looking at Philip Guston’s work, but in looking away. 

The superb retrospective catalogue, with its essays by the four curators, will remain as the only evidence of their years of insightful work to allow the entire scope of my father’s career to be seen by a new generation of art lovers. The Guston Foundation’s newly launched website, PhilipGuston.org, and the just-released major monograph “Philip Guston: A Life Spent Painting” by Robert Storr make major contributions to the artist’s legacy. But nothing can fully substitute for seeing the works themselves. 

Musa Mayer

Links to Reated Coverage

National Gallery of Art  Statement 

The New York Times by Julia Jacobs  9/24

ARTNews by Alex Greenberger 9/24

The Art Newspaper by Robert Storr  9/24

The Art Newspaper by Gareth Harris 9/25

The Washington Post by Peggy McGlone 9/25

The New York Times by Julia Jacobs, Jason Farago 9/25

The Observer by Helen Holmes 9/25

Berkshire Fine Arts by Charles Giuliano 9/26

Glasstire by Christopher Blay 9/27

The Article by David Herman 9/27

The Guardian by Edward Helmore 9/27

The Washington Post by Sebastian Smee 9/27

artnet by Tim Schneider 9/28

ARTNews by Alex Greenberger 9/28

The Art Newspaper by Ben Luke 9/28

The Guardian by Aindrea Emelife 9/28

Smithsonian Magazine by Isis Davis-Marks 9/29

Washingtonian by Mimi Montgomery 9/29

Brooklyn Rail Open Letter 9/30

The New York Times by Jason Farago 9/30

The Times UK by David Aaronovitch 9/30

Wall Street Journal by Eric Gibson 9/30

Wall Street Journal by Eric Gibson 9/30

ARTFORUM 9/30

CNN by Oscar Holland 10/1

Daily News by Theresa Braine 10/1

The Telegraph by Chris Harvey 10/1

Vulture by Jerry Saltz 10/1

Hyperallergic by Hraj Vartanian (podcast) 10/1

The Washington Post by Sebastian Smee 10/1

ArtReview by J.J. Charlesworth 10/2

Frieze Opinion by Terence Trouillot 10/2

The New York Times by Margaret Schwendener 10/3

Artlyst by Paul Carter Robinson 10/6

artnet by Julia Halperin 10/6

The Washington Post by Peggy McGlone 10/7

The Washington Post by Peggy McGlone and Sebastian Smee 10/12

The New Yorker by Peter Schjeldahl 10/19

artnet by Ben Davis 10/15

The Washington Post by Sebastian Smee 10/16

Collecteurs Online exhibition of some of the work in question

“Philip Guston’s 1970s Paintings Might Help You Cope Today”

In a new article from Vulture, Hilary Reid speaks to Musa Mayer about curating What EnduresHauser & Wirth’s latest online exhibition.

Untitled, 1971. © The Estate of Philip Guston

In the exhibition text for “What Endures,” you wrote that you were thinking about the “coinciding crises in America now” and how your father’s work spoke to this moment. What is it about the pieces in the show that you felt spoke to this moment?  

I always knew that my father was dealing in his work with the pain that he felt so acutely — of the world. That was evident in his very earliest works when he was portraying the horrible cruelty of the Ku Klux Klan, who were marching by the thousands still in the streets of Los Angeles; he witnessed it as a young man. That sense of social injustice and suffering never really left him, and it was always present in his work. I guess it emerged most strongly in the works that were shown at Marlborough Gallery in 1970 that were so controversial, where, after a long sojourn as an abstract painter, he returned to figuration with these really complicated and thoughtful works that were denounced as being crude and cartoonish at the time. Those works will be very much a focus in the upcoming retrospective at the Tate Modern, and I’ve focused in earlier shows on the Nixon drawings and on the works my father did in the years right after the hooded Ku Klux Klan figures. But for this exhibition, it’s sort of a step beyond. It asks, “How did he cope? How did the things that tormented him both in his personal life and the world outside find expression in his work? How was he able to transform them? What were his sources of renewal in the process?”When Hauser & Wirth asked me to curate an online show, though, I was thinking about how it must have been for my father to be working in isolation — registering all that was going on in the world not only in the ’60s but in the ’70s, when the war in Vietnam was still raging, when Nixon was in office, Watergate. All the turmoil, the assassinations that had happened not long before. I thought he was working with the burden of that societal pain. He was famously quoted in response to a New York Post reporter who had been talking about the change in his work. My father said, “What kind of a man am I, sitting at home, reading magazines, going into a frustrated fury about everything — and then going home to adjust a red to a blue?” That was sort of a key moment, not so much of his wanting to reject abstract painting, because I think what he learned from his own process as an abstract painter was so crucial to what came next, but to delve that deeply into the process of his working.

Read the full interview →

View the online exhibition→

“MUSA MAYER REFLECTS ON PAINTINGS BY FATHER PHILIP GUSTON AND THE LESSONS THAT ENDURE”

In an article for Cultured Magazine, Musa Mayer, the Guston Foundation’s President, discusses the online exhibition she curated for Hauser & Wirth and how she used her father’s experience for inspiration.  

BOTH, 1976. © THE ESTATE OF PHILIP GUSTON

“From my father, I learned by example that all of life, not only the satisfactions and joys, but also—or perhaps especially—the losses and tragedies, were fit subjects for art; that the injustice and cruelty of the world demand a response and that above all, art should be real—grounded in authentic expression, questioning and doubt.

I learned that asking deep questions, being honest with oneself and not turning away from that which is painful is a path for expanding experience. And I learned that navigating dreams, fears, memories—the full weight of the subconscious mind—can lead to fertile new territories ripe for exploration.”

Read the full article

View the online exhibition

“Figuration to Abstraction and Back Again: How Philip Guston Shaped 20th-Century Painting”

Claire Selvin discusses Guston’s career and upcoming Hauser & Wirth exhibition in her article for ARTNews.

Lower Level, 1975, oil on canvas. © The Estate of Philip Guston

“Philip Guston is best known for his incisive, cartoonish paintings and drawings ranging in subject matter from everyday scenes to narrative political satires, particularly those of Richard Nixon. Guston’s work received varying degrees of critical praise throughout his lifetime, shifting as he changed course.” 

Read the full article

Press Release for Website Launch

For Immediate Release

The Guston Foundation Launches In-Depth Website on Philip Guston’s Life and Work, Including Catalogue Raisonné with Images and Information for More Than 1,000 Paintings

This New Resource, Fully Accessible to Scholars and General Public Alike, Is Now Available Online; Additional Guston-Related Projects—First Retrospective Exhibition in a Generation and Publications on the Artist and His Legacy—Are Coming Soon

(Woodstock, NY, June 26, 2020)—The Guston Foundation, which is dedicated to the creative legacy of American artist Philip Guston, launched its website philipguston.org today, on the eve of his birthday, including a catalogue raisonné of all of the artist’s known paintings from across his five-decade career. This extensively illustrated resource—intended for scholars and the general public alike—provides an in-depth look at the life and work of Philip Guston (1913-1980), one of the 20th century’s most outstanding and influential artists. Read more

Download the Press Release

Philip Guston Now, Exhibition Catalog Trailer

originally posted on nga.gov

Published to accompany the first retrospective museum exhibition of Guston’s art in 15 years—temporarily postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic—this book traces the unconventional path of this hugely important painter (1913–1980), whose constant aesthetic reinvention defies easy categorization.  

Incisive essays from leading art historians reveal Guston’s thematic influences and interests, while an authoritative, illustrated chronology shares many new discoveries about his life and work. We also hear from 10 of the most relevant artists of our day—including Glenn Ligon, Amy Sillman, Art Spiegelman, and Rirkrit Tiravanija—for whom Guston’s work has served as inspiration.

Featuring a magnificent array of color plates derived from exquisite new photographs of Guston’s paintings, this generously illustrated volume also highlights rarities including little-known cartoons drawn by Guston in his youth and intimate, previously unpublished photographs of his studio and painting materials.

Hardcover edition published in association D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, Inc. 280 pages, 278 illustrations

Major support for the international tour of the exhibition and the catalog is provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Philip Guston Now (Postponed)



The National Gallery of Art will present a major retrospective, Philip Guston Now, spanning the entirety of Guston’s career. The exhibition will feature some 125 paintings and 70 drawings, from public and private collections. Accompanying the retrospective will be a monograph featuring essays written by the co-curators, with an illustrated chronology of the artist’s life and career. 

Kaywin Feldman, Director of the Washington, D.C. museum, says “This exhibition will provide an in-depth look at the career that led to his iconic late paintings and will surely secure Guston’s place in the pantheon of modern art, while reassessing his impact on the art of the present.” 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Philip Guston Now will debut at the Tate Modern, early 2021.

Resilience: Philip Guston in 1971; Catalogue

On 5 January 2020, Resilience: Philip Guston in 1971 closed at Hauser & Wirth’s Los Angeles gallery. It was the first solo exhibition in his boyhood hometown of Los Angeles in over half a century. It documented the work of a single year in Guston’s life. The show was curated by the artist’s daughter, Musa Mayer who wrote an insightful essay offering a window into the artist’s state of mind during that year, primarily through his own words.  

“I see now how it feels to do something new and original.” – Philip Guston

Resilience: Philip Guston in 1971; Exhibition

Photo: Film still of Philip Guston in his Woodstock studio, summer 1971, from footage by Michael Blackwood Productions

Hauser & Wirth will present Resilience: Philip Guston in 1971, showcasing work from a crucial year of Philip Guston’s career. The solo exhibition, his first in Los Angeles in over 50 years, will feature works from both the Nixon drawings and the Roma paintings— two of his major series.

“These figurative paintings and narrative satirical drawings bear witness to an artist at the height of his powers, exquisitely responsive to his world,” says Musa Mayer, Guston’s daughter and curator of the exhibition.

Resilience: Philip Guston in 1971 will begin September 14, 2019 and will run through January 5, 2020.