New American Paintings/Blog


Not Built in a Day: Works from Philip Guston’s Rome Residency by openstudiospress

TOP: Philip Guston, Pantheon, 1973. Oil on panel. Private Collection, Woodstock, NY. BOTTOM: Philip Guston, Rome, 1971. Oil on paper. Images: © Estate of Philip Guston; courtesy McKee Gallery, New York, NY.

Philip Guston, celebrated abstract expressionist of the New York school, returned to the American Academy in Rome (where he was a fellow in 1949) as resident artist in 1970-71 on the heels of his poorly-received show at Marlborough Gallery in New York, which introduced his controversial return to figurative painting. Currently on display at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., Philip Guston, Roma exhibits the works produced by Guston during his six-month Rome residency arguably the most creatively fertile period of his career and presents the artist’s complex visual dialogue with Italian art and culture through the symbolic shorthand that came to characterize his later work. More images after the jump.  —Matthew Smith, DC contributor


Rome, 1971. Oil on paper. Collection of Joan and Sanford Krotenberg. © Estate of Philip Guston; image courtesy McKee Gallery, New York, NY

Reeling from the derisive critical response to the Marlborough show, Guston sought refuge in the city of Rome and nourishment from Giotto, Giorgio de Chirico, and Piero della Francesca, among other Italian masters. Fascinated by the architectural objects and archaeological vestiges that adorn the Italian landscape, he used these objects as protagonists in small narrative paintings that made use of observation and pictorial space, bucking the overwhelming modernist trend of the time.


TOP: Rome Garden, 1971. Oil on paper mounted on panel. BOTTOM: Untitled, 1971. Oil on paper mounted on canvas. Images: Private Collection, Woodstock, NY. © Estate of Philip Guston; image courtesy McKee Gallery, New York, NY.


TOP: Untitled, 1971. Oil on paper mounted on panel. BOTTOM: Untitled (Wall), 1971. Oil on paper. Private Collection. Images: © Estate of Philip Guston; image courtesy McKee Gallery, New York, NY.


Residue, 1971. Oil on paper. Private Collection. © Estate of Philip Guston; image courtesy McKee Gallery, New York, NY.


Matthew Smith is an artist and writer in Washington, DC and a frequent contributor to DCist.

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