Bryan Wolf, Between the Lines: Philip Guston and “Bad Painting”

On October 19th at the National Gallery in Washington, a lecture by Bryan Wolf: “Between the Lines: Philip Guston and ‘Bad Painting.'”‘

“In the years between 1967 and 1970, Philip Guston scandalized the New York art world by renouncing abstraction and turning instead to figurative modes of painting characterized by cartoonish images that mixed Ku Klux Klan hoods, idioms of popular culture, and a private vocabulary of cigars, light bulbs, legs, shoes and other assorted—and often hairy—body parts. Buried within these outlandish works are three recurring concerns: questions of pilgrimage, revelation, and epiphany that link Guston to Hudson River School painting of the 19th century; a covert interest in writing as cultural logic that informs his own painting practices; and an obsessive focus on lines that distinguishes Guston’s art from the drips and gestural forms of Jackson Pollock. Ultimately, each of these concerns points to what can be seen as the real focus of Guston’s figurative work: the history and memory of the Holocaust.”