Hauser & Wirth is pleased to announce representation of the Estate of Philip Guston

Friday, September 25, 2015
Hauser & Wirth is pleased to announce representation of the Estate of Philip Guston

Hauser & Wirth and the Estate of Philip Guston are pleased to announce jointly that the gallery now represents the Estate exclusively worldwide, following the closure of the McKee Gallery earlier this year. David and Renée McKee began working with Guston in 1974, and will continue to work closely with Hauser & Wirth, the artist's daughter Musa Mayer and the Estate in an advisory capacity.

Hauser & Wirth is pleased to announce representation of the Estate of Philip Guston

Hauser & Wirth and the Estate of Philip Guston are pleased to announce jointly that the gallery now represents the Estate exclusively worldwide, following the closure of the McKee Gallery earlier this year. David and Renée McKee began working with Guston in 1974, and will continue to work closely with Hauser & Wirth, the artist's daughter Musa Mayer and the Estate in an advisory capacity.

Hauser & Wirth looks forward to its first exhibition of Guston’s work, which will be curated by Paul Schimmel and take place in New York in 2016. Philip Guston’s paintings, drawings, and prints have been the subject of solo exhibitions and retrospectives at many of the most admired museums in the Western world and his works are included in outstanding public and private collections. The gallery will work to further Guston’s legacy and deepen understanding of and engagement with his work in the United States and internationally, through major exhibitions, public programs, and new research and publications.

Iwan Wirth, President of Hauser & Wirth said, "We are greatly honored that our gallery has been selected as the new home for the Estate of Philip Guston. We look forward to building an even closer relationship with Musa, and learning from her innate and deep understanding of her father’s work. The McKee Gallery will be a tough act to follow, given the outstanding job that David and Renée have done over the past 40 years for this exceptional artist. We will do our utmost to continue to serve Guston’s legacy."

Philip Guston (1913 – 1980) is one of the great luminaries of 20th century art, whose commitment to producing work from genuine emotion and lived experience ensures its enduring impact. Guston’s legendary career spanned a half century, from 1930 to 1980. His paintings – particularly the liberated and instinctual forms of his late work – continue to exert a powerful influence on younger generations of contemporary painters.

Portrait of Philip Guston. Photo: F.K. Lloyd

Born in Montreal in 1913 to Russian Jewish émigrés, Guston moved with his family to California in 1919. He briefly attended the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles in 1930, but otherwise received no formal training. In 1935 Guston left Los Angeles for New York, where he enjoyed early success with the Works Progress Administration, which commissioned artists to create public murals under the Federal Arts Project. Influenced by the social and political landscape of the 1930s, his paintings and murals evoked the stylized forms of de Chirico and Picasso, motifs from the Mexican mural tradition, and classical properties of Italian Renaissance frescoes. His experience as a mural painter allowed a development of narrative and scale that Guston would return to in his late figurative work.

After teaching in the Midwest for several years, Guston began dividing his time between the artists' colony of Woodstock and New York City. In the late 1940s, following a decade of exploration of figurative and personal allegories in his easel paintings, Guston began to move towards abstraction. His studio on 10th Street was near the studios of Pollock, de Kooning, Kline and Rothko.

Guston’s abstract works were anchored in a new spontaneity, freedom, and engagement with the act of painting, a process critic Harold Rosenberg later referred to as "action painting". In the early 1950s, Guston’s atmospheric abstractions invited superficial comparisons with Monet, but as the decade progressed, he worked with heavier impasto and brooding colors, which gave way to grays, pinks and blacks.

In 1955 he joined the Sidney Janis Gallery along with the artists of The New York School, and was among those who left in 1962 in protest over the Pop Art exhibition Janis mounted, and the shift towards the commercialization of art that this exhibition represented for them. Following a major retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1962, Guston became dissatisfied and restless with the language of pure abstraction, and began experimenting again with more tangible forms. The work of the next several years was characterized by the use of black and the interjection of bright greens and cobalt blue – altogether disturbing, anxious, and gestural in nature. This somber work was influenced by European writing and philosophy, particularly the works of Kierkegaard, Kafka, and Sartre. At this juncture, Guston removed himself from the art scene in New York and lived and worked in Woodstock for the remainder of his life.

By 1968, Guston had abandoned abstraction, rediscovering the narrative potential of painting and exploring surreal motifs and combinations of objects within his work. This liberation led to the most productive period of his creative life. Over the next few years, he developed a personal lexicon of lightbulbs, books, clocks, cities, nails in wood, rogue limbs, cigarettes, orphaned shoes, and Ku Klux Klan hooded figures. The expressively rendered, painterly work of the 1970s was often overtly autobiographical in nature, featuring the recurring figure of the artist disguised as a masked, hooded figure, or in tender portraits of his wife Musa, and himself as a bean-like semi-abstract creature. The late works also reveal echoes of Guston’s early life, of the religious and racial persecution he witnessed, and his father’s early suicide. Motivated by internal forces, his last works possessed a mounting freedom, unique among the artists of his generation. In the mid-1970s, strange iconic forms emerged unlike anything previously seen. "If I speak of having a subject to paint, I mean there is a forgotten place of beings and things, which I need to remember’, Guston wrote in a studio note. ‘I want to see this place. I paint what I want to see."

Guston’s late work was not easily accepted by critics and remained largely misunderstood until after his death in 1980. His work underwent a radical reappraisal following a traveling retrospective of his work that opened three weeks before his death, at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Other retrospective and solo exhibitions in the United States, Europe, and Australia have followed in the ensuing years. Today, Guston’s late paintings are considered among the most important work of the 20th century.

While at Marlborough Gallery, before the controversial first exhibition of his late work in 1970, Guston met David McKee and in 1974 joined the McKee Gallery. David and Renee McKee represented Guston until his death, and have continued working with the Estate of Philip Guston for the past 35 years, building an enduring legacy. Volume 7, Hauser & Wirth’s magazine (published 16 November 2015), includes an in-depth interview between Iwan Wirth and David McKee, on the history of the McKee Gallery and his relationship to Philip Guston.

Image above: "Painting, smoking, eating" 1973 painting by Philip Guston. Author: Arniep. Source: Wikipedia.

 

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