NEW YORK, NY.-
Although the McKee Gallery
has mounted many Philip Guston shows over the last 35 years, it has never exhibited the small oil panels together as a group. The early figurative acrylic panels were begun in 1968, but the date of the first smaller oils is undetermined. The dated oil panels begin in 1969 and the last ones in 1973. Many are undated.
These small oils, ranging in size from 9 x 10 to 12 x 16 inches, have always been special. Their diminutive size does not diminish their pictorial strength, whether as complex compositions of hooded figures in conversation, studio interiors, still-lifes or as paintings of single objects, such as a green shade, a cup, a nail or an umbrella. They are not studies or fragments of larger works.
Guston painted these small oils for a period of 5 years, while going through the first hooded figure series and the Roma period, and then he stopped. They have a unity to them that belies the span of time during which they were done. The panels are all very painterly, not flat, and exude a care and intensity of focus that convey the painters passion in making them.
The exhibition includes 45 works, mostly loans, and runs through December 31, 2009.