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Painter III

1960 Philip Guston Born: Montreal, Quebec, Canada 1913 Died: Woodstock, New York 1980 oil on canvas 60 5/8 x 68 in. (154.1 x 172.8 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. 1969.47.59 Not currently on view


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Painter III is an anxious, agitated painting that was completed shortly before Guston rejected abstraction and returned to recognizable imagery. “When the 1960s came along,” he said, “I was feeling split, schizophrenic. The [Vietnam] war, what was happening in America, the brutality of the world. What kind of a man am I, sitting at home, reading magazines, going into a frustrated fury about everything—and then going into my studio to adjust a red to a blue.” In 1970 he shocked the New York gallery scene when he opened a show that featured paintings with cartoon-like images of clocks, eyes, the soles of shoes, and other seemingly symbolic forms.

Modern Masters: Midcentury Abstraction from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2008

 

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