(K. Brent Tomer),
IN PHILIP GUSTON’s “bed paintings”, on show at Venice’s Accademia, he and his wife huddle under the blankets—an old couple, here clinging to each other, there sleeping peacefully side by side. The tenderness of the works comes as a surprise, given that they’re painted in the curious, cartoonlike style that Guston developed in the late 1960s, and continued to work with for the rest of his life. But it’s not the only surprise in an exhibition that invites us to delve into the psyche of an artist best known for the storm of disapproval he prompted by abandoning abstract expressionism.
Guston (1913-80) grew up in Los Angeles. He began drawing at an early age and soon fell in love with the art of the Italian Renaissance. At high school, he met Jackson Pollock and the pair were eventually expelled for distributing satirical pamphlets. Guston’s progression from muralist with the Federal Art Project during the Depression, to successful abstract expressionist, then back to figurative artist makes for an individually…Continue reading