Philip Guston Now – A Personal Meditation

by Phong Bui, The Brooklyn Rail, May 2023

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Installation view: Philip Guston Now, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 2023. Courtesy the National Gallery of Art

Phong Bui, Publisher and Artistic Director of The Brooklyn Rail, takes us on an intimate and detailed tour of the retrospective Philip Guston Now currently on view at the National Gallery of Art through August 27.  With a congratulatory nod to Harry Cooper, curator and head of modern and contemporary art at NGA, Bui commends the exhibition’s “intention to present the works without spoon-feeding or condescending to the viewers.”  

Bui writes of “disappointment and frustration upon hearing the news of the second postponement of [the] Philip Guston Now exhibition (the first due to COVID-19) because of a profound misunderstanding of what the paintings that are now being shown at the National Gallery of Art are really about. They are the paintings of a fearless truth teller…”

 “Guston’s self-conscious decision to question every possible realm of human existence is understandable. This includes not just spiritual, social, and political metaphors, but also of everyday events, routines that involve our relationship with things, and objects that are made to perform certain functions.”

The retrospective is “perfectly calibrated to each phase of the painter’s evolution” from 1930 to 1980.  “The result is a poetic redemption of everything that had derailed Guston’s own power of ‘negative capability’.“

(Philip Guston Now travels to the Tate Modern in London, October 5, 2023 – February 25, 2024.)