Retrospective of Influential Modernist Philip Guston Will Go on International Tour in 2020-21

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  • June 27, 2019

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Philip Guston, Painting, Smoking, Eating, 1973, oil on canvas, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, © The Estate of Philip Guston

One of America’s greatest modern painters, Philip Guston (1913–1980) uniquely bridged the personal and the political, the abstract and the figurative, and the humorous and the tragic in paintings of lively touch and memorable impact. A major retrospective of the artist, Philip Guston Now, the first in more than 15 years, will present a balanced view of the artist’s 50-year career. Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Tate Modern, London, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the exhibition will debut in the National Gallery’s East Building from June 7 through September 13, 2020.

Philip Guston, Untitled, 1968, acrylic on panel, Philip Guston Estate, © The Estate of Philip Guston

A selection of approximately 125 paintings and 70 drawings from some 40 public and private collections will feature well-known works as well as others that have rarely been seen. Highlights include paintings from the 1930s that have never been on public view; the largest reunion of paintings from his groundbreaking Marlborough Gallery show in 1970; a thorough representation of satirical drawings of Richard Nixon and his associates; a dazzling array of small panel paintings made in 1968–1972 as Guston was developing his new vocabulary of hoods, books, bricks, and shoes; and a powerful selection of large, often apocalyptic paintings of the later 1970s that form the artist’s last major artistic statement. A fully illustrated monograph will include essays by the exhibition’s co-curators and a richly illustrated chronology of his life and work, along with reflections by contemporary artists on their engagement with Guston and the impact of his work and legacy.

“Philip Guston’s paintings have inspired generations of artists while also defying easy definition,” said Kaywin Feldman, director, National Gallery of Art, Washington. “This exhibition will provide an in-depth look at the career that led to his iconic late paintings and will surely secure Guston’s place in the pantheon of modern art, while reassessing his impact on the art of the present.”  

The exhibition is curated by Harry Cooper, senior curator and head, department of modern art, National Gallery of Art, Washington; Alison de Lima Greene, Isabel Brown Wilson Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Mark Godfrey, senior curator, international art, Tate Modern, London; and Kate Nesin, adjunct curator, contemporary art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Tate Modern, London; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


National Gallery of Art, Washington, June 7– September 13, 2020
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, October 18, 2020 – January 18, 2021
Tate Modern, London, February 17– June 13, 2021
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, July 17– October 17, 2021

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