Philip Guston, Transition, 1975, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of Musa Guston, 1992.89
A show of new paintings in 1970 brought a blast of bad press, and Transition shows Guston hiding behind the canvas, as if taking refuge from his critics. One disembodied eye peers warily at a pile of shoes, a recurrent symbol in Guston's new work that represented the tangle of the ordinary world he felt compelled to paint. A tiny, clownish doorway suggests a move from one place to another, while the clock near the center of the image points to the artist's canvas, as if ticking away the time Guston has left to paint. Smoking, drinking, and overwork brought on a heart attack not long after this work was finished.
Once, while showing paintings to a friend, Guston said, "People, you know, complain that it's horrifying. As if it's a picnic for me, who has to come in here every day and see them first thing. But what's the alternative? I'm trying to see how much I can stand."
Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006
- On View
- Not on view.
66 x 80 1/2 in. (167.6 x 204.5 cm.)
- Credit Line
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Bequest of Musa Guston
- Mediums Description
- oil on canvas
- Dress – accessory – shoe
- Figure – fragment – hand
- Object – furniture – clock
- Object Number
- Linked Open Data
- Linked Open Data URI