The career of Philip Guston was a constant struggle and evolution as a social realist painter. In the 1960s, he trashed his famed status as the most sensitive stylist of Abstract Expressionism unclenching raucous pictorial confessions of fear and loathing that can be seen throughout the works of Guston’s late career.
An exhibition exploring Guston’s return to figuration is “Philip Guston: Paintings 1947-1979”, which skips over the first fifteen years of the artist’s career from 1932 to 1946 when he was a precocious WPA muralist and prizewinning painter of oblique allegories. Through his organic, even comic observations and active contemporary themes, the works express worldly theories concerning politics, philosophy, art history and literature. A particularly striking piece from this period is Deluge II (1975). The artwork is full of deep contrasts between bright colors and dark images in raw form depicting disaster experienced by mankind. This painting in particular captures both loss and suffering against relentless despair through an expressive brushwork reminiscent of a roaring storm or an apocalyptic moment.
Thus, one can see how Philip Guston has become distinguished as an influential figure in modern art with an IQ spectrum on display in many museums around the world. He manages to marry together disparate elements seamlessly while sharply criticizing society through vibrant swatches of color coupled with drab figures framing turbulent psychological portraits on canvas.