Philip Guston (1913-1980): Late Paintings (3 stars)

This article is from 2012

Philip Guston (1913-1980): Late Paintings

Late work by renowned US artist in Scotland for the first time

Continuing its growing tradition of presenting some of the greats of 20th century art in striking surroundings, this festival Inverleith House plays host to Canadian painter Philip Guston, a contemporary of Pollock and De Kooning in 1950s New York. The nine works displayed here are drawn approximately from the last decade of his life until he died in 1980, and they repeat many of the same images over and over again, almost as if they were branding.

Guston’s paintings are light and cartoonish, but with an abstract sensibility and a weight of resonance to the pieces which, if anything, grows stronger to this day. Characters – including one reclined in bed with a feverish cyclopean stare and a group of unfeasibly cuddly-looking Ku Klux Klan members – smoke and work in the artist’s studios, or in the final image ‘Riding Around’ get hooded up and go off for a drive. ‘The Line’ is particularly eye-catching, a huge God-hand descending from the clouds to either make a chalk mark or stub a cigarette, a dramatic reaffirmation of the artist’s competing influences: weighty imagery, crushing routine and the hint of a certain flesh-pink tinted realism.

Inverleith House, 552 7171, until 7 Oct, free.

Philip Guston: Late Paintings

  • 3 stars

Philip Guston began in the 1930s as a mural painter, then achieved fame as one of the first Abstract Expressionists, but it wasn't until the last decades of his life that he painted his most celebrated and notorious works. Guston's late paintings are cartoonish explosions of energy and vulgarity, full of hairy body parts…

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