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D.A.P./National Gallery of Art

Clth, 9.5 x 11.5 in. / 280 pgs / 275 color.

Pub Date

D.A.P. Exclusive
Catalog: SPRING 2020 p. 5   

ISBN 9781942884569 TRADE
List Price: $65.00 CDN $88.00 GBP £53.00

In stock


Boston, MA
Museum of Fine Arts, 05/01/22–09/11/22

Houston, TX
Museum of Fine Arts, 10/23/22–01/15/23

Washington, DC
National Gallery of Art, 02/26/23–08/27/23

London, UK
Tate Modern, 10/03/23–02/25/24

"But you begin to feel as you go on working that unless painting proves its right to exist by being critical and self-judging, it has no reason to exist at all—or is not even possible." —Philip Guston, "Faith, Hope and Impossibility," 1965/66

"This may sound grandiose, but in Guston's thinking the painter was not godlike in the way of an all-powerful being, but godlike because he was repeatedly faced by the void, and the prospect each time was no less daunting than the last."
—Mark Godfrey



Philip Guston Now

Text by Harry Cooper, Mark Godfrey, Alison de Lima Greene, Kate Nesin. Contributions by Jennifer Roberts, Tacita Dean, Peter Fischli, Trenton Doyle Hancock, William Kentridge, Glenn Ligon, David Reed, Dana Schutz, Amy Sillman, Art Spiegelman, Rirkrit Tiravanija.

Philip Guston Now

A sweeping retrospective of Philip Guston’s influential work, from Depression-era muralist to abstract expressionist to tragicomic contemporary master

A Wall Street Journal 2020 holiday gift guide pick

Philip Guston—perhaps more than any other figure in recent memory—has given contemporary artists permission to break the rules and paint what, and how, they want. His winding career, embrace of “high” and “low” sources, and constant aesthetic reinvention defy easy categorization, and his 1968 figurative turn is by now one of modern art’s most legendary conversion narratives. “I was feeling split, schizophrenic. The war, what was happening in America, the brutality of the world. What kind of man am I, sitting at home, reading magazines, going into a frustrated fury about everything—and then going into my studio to adjust a red to a blue?”

And so Guston’s sensitive abstractions gave way to large, cartoonlike canvases populated by lumpy, sometimes tortured figures and mysterious personal symbols in a palette of juicy pinks, acid greens, and cool blues. That Guston continued mining this vein for the rest of his life—despite initial bewilderment from his peers—reinforced his reputation as an artist’s artist and a model of integrity; since his death 50 years ago, he has become hugely influential as contemporary art has followed Guston into its own antic twists and turns.

Published to accompany the first retrospective museum exhibition of Guston’s career in over 15 years, Philip Guston Now includes a lead essay by Harry Cooper surveying Guston's life and work, and a definitive chronology reflecting many new discoveries. It also highlights the voices of artists of our day who have been inspired by the full range of his work: Tacita Dean, Peter Fischli, Trenton Doyle Hancock, William Kentridge, Glenn Ligon, David Reed, Dana Schutz, Amy Sillman, Art Spiegelman and Rirkrit Tiravanija. Thematic essays by co-curators Mark Godfrey, Alison de Lima Greene and Kate Nesin trace the influences, interests and evolution of this singular force in modern and contemporary art—including several perspectives on the 1960s and ’70s, when Guston gradually abandoned abstraction, returning to the figure and to current history but with a personal voice, by turns comic and apocalyptic, that resonates today more than ever.

Featured image is reproduced from 'Philip Guston Now.'



Evan Pricco

A rousing and reverential guide to understanding the evolution of a painter and why he deeply resonates with such an illustrious audience of artists and patrons today.



A satisfying compilation of the late painter’s best-known work, as well as some surprises. Assembled for his new traveling retrospective at the National Gallery of Art, this catalogue could function either as an introduction or a point of reentry, giving those with varying experiences with Guston’s work a chance to deepen what they know.

Art In America


Guston’s enduring appeal rests in the permissions he offers artists. He encourages them to drastically change their work in midstream, to examine their personal relationship to evil, to embrace discredited styles and genres, and to accept and even revel in their own ambivalence about the meaning of art.

Midwest Book Review


Beautifully produced ... Philip Guston Now is a fitting and impressively informative survey and analysis of a remarkable artist, his life and his work.

Art and Object

Paul Laster

A beautifully illustrated catalogue with essays by the show's co-curators and reflections on his influential work by such contemporary artists as Trenton Doyle Hancock, William Kentridge, and Amy Sillman. Guston created work in a variety of styles and from psychological points of view that continue to impact an evolving art world today.


Claire Selvin

Philip Guston is best known for his incisive, cartoonish paintings and drawings ranging in subject matter from everyday scenes to narrative political satires, particularly those of Richard Nixon. Guston’s work received varying degrees of critical praise throughout his lifetime, shifting as he changed course.


Michael Glover

A career-spanning retrospective that looks at Guston’s legacy and influence, and includes commentary on individual paintings by William Kentridge, Amy Sillman, Tacita Dean and many others.

Art Newspaper

Ben Luke

[Glenn] Ligon’s text is a powerful exploration of Guston’s Klansmen imagery, full of nuance, clear-eyed about the complexity and difficulty of addressing the subject.


Jake Marmer

Philip Guston was a rule-breaking artist, who inspired so many painters as well cartoonists, writers, poets, and musicians, and this book brings together scores of terrific essays by artists and scholars, and a wide-ranging collection of full-color reproductions of his paintings and drawings…. Insightful.

Antiques and The Arts Weekly

A sweeping retrospective of Philip Guston’s influential work, from Depression-era muralist to abstract expressionist to tragicomic contemporary master. Philip Guston – perhaps more than any other figure in recent memory – has given contemporary artists permission to break the rules and paint what, and how, they want.

The Nation

Barry Schwabsky

A necessary resource for anyone interested in understanding Guston…. What’s untimely in Guston is his freedom from the urge, so common today, to seek reassurance of one’s own goodness by accusing others of wrongdoing.

New York Times: Arts

Holland Cotter

Brings Guston himself to life, thrashingly, ferociously so.


John Yau

Guston became a witness to the 20th century’s darkest and foulest experiences without closing his eyes or turning away, and enabled us to see and reflect upon this brutality.

Brooklyn Rail

Lyle Rexer

Isn’t that what artists are supposed to be about, showing us the complexity of their encounter with the world, rather than offering platitudes or outrage?

Brooklyn Rail

Rosa Boshier González

Highlights the regenerative quality of the master painter’s work...Whether mapping universal evil or the messy terrain of his own mind, he understood that an examination of society is always, even in small part, an examination of self.

Philip Guston Now

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Excerpts from the Artist Statements

Trenton Doyle Hancock
Guston describes something beyond the occasion, something lurking under the white hoods. One figure stands alone in the foreground, seeming defeated. His eyes evoke the limited consciousness of a catfish as he peers downward at broken shards, reflections of his own busted humanity. He wears his own shadow as a cape, breaking the rules of sunlight. Is he a dissenter from the group? Does he represent the potential for humanity in those devoid of it?

Rirkrit Tiravanija
The fragmented legs and limbs of Mr. Guston’s images can be read as tokens of humanity’s present pitfalls. The rush to freedom is capitalized by fear: the ball of limbs crowded together becomes a form of otherness that can only be read as indeterminate, and in what is indeterminate, seemingly unidentifiable, a picture of fear emerges. Perhaps the balance between life and death in this society can only be addressed by the lightest of forms, the cartoon, seemingly childlike, without the weight of reality. But it is in that balance that Guston’s symbolism arises, and the laughter of criticality, of the self not taking itself seriously.

Amy Sillman
I can’t feel this much existentialism in other painters…. In places of high art you’re supposed to see the majesty of time’s arrow as it arcs across time, not the way the failed arrows fall out of the quiver between wonder and stupidness.

Tacita Dean
Rather than coax his idiosyncratic forms out of his early representational process, which might well have been fraught with danger, he found them instead within his own brushwork, mark-making and the color palette of his abstraction, and brought them forth from there. His sojourn in abstract expressionism was a necessary rupture, which gave freedom to his forms to sally forth without the constraints of any representational forebears.

David Reed
Painters since have gone where he advocated, finding many ways in which a painting can be both representational and abstract. Figuration and abstraction can merge, or arrange an alliance, or contradict each other but still coexist. There can be interactions of unexpected complication and possibility — abstraction can become an image, as can the photographic or cinematic.

William Kentridge
A painting always meets us halfway. It presents a report of the world and we project onto this report associations and memories, including, of course, memories of other images—the painting always contains a fragment of the world and its history, and also a conversation with the history of image-making.

Glenn Ligon
Political activist and bad Negro H. Rap Brown once said, “Violence is as American as cherry pie,” and in the midst of a corrupt presidency, an escalating war in Vietnam, and unrelenting brutality directed at the civil-rights and black-power movements, Guston, unable to continue going to the studio “to adjust a red to a blue,” made a precipitous move from abstraction to figuration in order to explore issues of domestic terrorism, white hegemony, and white complicity. At the time, to be “in the hood” was a solution to a problem, one that enabled Guston to break from the elevated critical discourse surrounding postwar abstraction and dive into the muck and mire of the American experience, allowing him to tell the truth of what it meant to be a citizen reckoning with a particularly turbulent moment in the nation’s history. Guston’s “hood” paintings, with their ambiguous narratives and incendiary subject matter, are not asleep—they’re woke.

Peter Fischli
His is the struggle of the modernist artist. When he turned away from abstract expressionism and went back to the figure, he had to battle all the rules of the canon. He struggled with what he saw as the “pureness” of abstract painting. He was sick of it.

Art Spiegelman
Vitriol and empathy combine in a masterpiece of engaged caricature that transcends categories of low cartoon and high art…. When Guston leaped across the High-Low chasm, he passed a generation of comics artists leaping in the other direction, using their craft for self-expression and not necessarily looking for punch lines. I stare into Guston’s cyclopean eye and see the history of painting and the history of cartoons staring back at me.

Dana Schutz
Guston’s figures never come off clean. Bludgeoned and heavy headed, murderous and mundane, they are the accuser and the accused. Pointed fingers are speckled with blood in the afternoon; beady blackened eyes throw daggers and doleful stares beneath helmeted scalps; the backs of behemoths lug tangled pistons of horseshoed legs, as if hauling all of human atrocity; Klansmen, rendered dumb in brutal idiocy, take up painting. They eat and drive just like us. Guston is never far from his characters; even at their most scathing and satirical his depictions have pathos.



In support of 'Philip Guston Now'

In support of 'Philip Guston Now'

The catalog Philip Guston Now, co-published and distributed by D.A.P., has been released and is now on sale in bookstores and museum shops worldwide. D.A.P. fully stands behind the book and believes that this work speaks powerfully to our times.
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Revised 'Philip Guston Now' opens at MFA Boston

Revised 'Philip Guston Now' opens at MFA Boston

Featured spreads are reproduced from Philip Guston Now, the definitive exhibition catalog published to accompany the retrospective originally scheduled to open at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, in June 2020, and now opening May 1 at MFA Boston. "Be warned," NGADC curator Harry Cooper writes. "Guston's is not a sunny art. There is a moment on film where he uses the word 'happy' almost by accident and then repeats it in disgust, spitting it out. That he endured personal traumas and took the traumas of the twentieth century to heart is evident in most of the images in this volume, if you look closely. But even in its darkest moments and seen in the darkest light, his art can be beautiful and even hopeful. His refusal to withdraw, his insistence on bearing witness to what was happening inside himself and out, was a kind of faith… Guston's work seems to inhabit a present tense, addressing us in the moment. Whether it is the freshness of the paint itself, the directness of the handling, the power of the image, or something undefinable, we feel that the work could have been done yesterday. Or just now." continue to blog


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