KKK Imagery Causes Philip Guston’s Exhibition a Four-Year Postponement

Can an artist’s legacy be taboo in 2020?

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City Limits, 1969 Wiki Art

Who was Philip Guston?

Guston was an American-Canadian artist, the son of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants, born in 1913. Considering early mid-twentieth-century California he found himself in, it’s not surprising to read his family had been the victim of repeated hostilities and persecution.
As a part of the New York School, in the last 1960s, he led the transition from abstract expressionism to neo-expressionism, alongside other artists like Pollock and de Kooning.
We count a number of works from these later years which feature Ku Klux Klan members in a cartoonish, satirical yet more figurative rendering.

Why is his work making the headlines?

Some of Guston’s paintings are characterised by KKK imagery set in sarcastic and twisty mise en scènes.
‘What would it be like to be evil?’ — so Guston starts a conversation about the wrongs of society. Wrongs in whose shoes — or under whose hoods — he paints his own self, as in 1969 The Studio which he defined as a meta-self-portrait.

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The Studio, 1969 Wiki Art

Why ‘Guston Now’ needs to be reinstated just…Now

Looking at City Limits I can’t help but think of Biff’s wicked gang in Back to the Future. A bunch of obnoxious youths driving around the village looking to wreak havoc. Similarily seem to be portrayed the three hoods: squeezing in the car, up to something sinister.

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Biff and his gang, Back to the Future 1985 Pinterest

‘The danger is not in looking at Philip Guston’s work, but in looking away.’

So claims the artist’s daughter, and likewise agreed over two thousands of artists, critics, curators, and scholars who, via New York-based journal The Brooklyn Rail, signed an open letter to voice their disappointment.

Providing unsolicited, mostly unqualified perspectives on Art for laymen. Blatantly entitled.

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