Peter Benson Miller – Go Figure! New Perspectives on Philip Guston
In the past few decades, several major exhibitions and scholarly publications have revisited the distinguished career of American painter Philip Guston (1913–1980), a Fellow at the American Academy in Rome in 1949 and a Resident there in 1960 and again in 1971. Once known as “Abstract Expressionism’s odd-man out,” a respected, but often misunderstood, member of the New York School, Guston is now celebrated for his magisterial paintings of the late 1960s and 1970s. Combining painterly virtuosity and narrative power, they cast a long shadow over the current landscape of contemporary art. Guston, in a letter written to the critic Harold Rosenberg, asserted that they felt “like a peculiar mixture of the comic and the desolate.” Their potent blend of paradoxical extremes continues to baffle and inspire viewers in equal measure. Underlining the lasting currency of Guston’s vision among artists working today, this talk will consider the significance and critical fortunes of Guston’s work, paying special attention to his lifelong attentiveness to Italian art and culture.
Peter Benson Miller is the Heiskell Arts Director at the American American Academy in Rome.