Writer: Bradley Paul
CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Early Guston works will be displayed at UI Museum of Art Jan. 25-March
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- "Philip Guston: Working Through the Forties,"
the first exhibition to focus on the artist's initial decade of mature work,
will be on display at the University of Iowa Museum of Art Jan. 25 through
In conjunction with the exhibition, UI doctoral candidate Celia Stahr will
present a slide lecture on Guston's work as part of the weekly Perspectives
series at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, in the museum.
A film, "Philip Guston: A Life Lived," showing the artist at his
San Francisco in 1980 and in his Woodstock studio, will also be shown as part
of the Perspectives series at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12, in the museum.
An opening reception for the museum's new exhibitions will be 5-7 p.m. Friday,
Jan. 24, in the museum. The reception will feature "Artist and Critic:
A Dialogue," a discussion at 5:30 p.m. between art critic Eleanor Heartney
and artist Alan Sonfist, whose work also goes on display at the museum Jan.
The Guston exhibition and the associated events are free and open to the public.
The exhibition consists of 41 drawings and paintings dating 1939-51, many
of which have never been publicly displayed. They trace Guston's development
from a muralist for the Works Progress Administration in the late 1930s through
the beginnings of his movem4/21in the early 1950s.
The bulk of the work in this exhibition was created 1941-45, when Guston was
an instructor at the UI. It was then that he developed a romantic figurative
style in which the subject is shown in clearly defined monumental and sculptural
forms, usually in an urban setting. The work frequently explores images of
conflict and reflects the influence of early Renaissance art, which was crucial
to this phase of Guston's career.
Many of the pictures feature Iowa City landmarks, including the spire of St.
Mary's Church, the brick buildings characteristic of downtown, and the houses
along Summit Street and College Avenue, where Guston lived.
Guston's career did not evolve in a consistent pattern, but was characterized
by frequent reversals of artistic values and intentions. His figurative style
gave way to his interest in abstraction during the 1950s, but he returned
to a very idiosyncratic figurative representation in the 1960s.
Many of the motifs in Guston's work from the 1940s reappear, transformed,
in his late figurative work. The exhibition makes clear that in the 1940s
Guston was establishing a lifelong artistic vocabulary as well as creating
important works of art.
The works in exhibition are from public institutions including the San Francisco
Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the
Museum of Modern Art in New York and the St. Louis Museum of Art, as well
as private collections and the permanent collection of the UI Museum of Art.
The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with an essay by
Michael E. Shapiro, deputy director and chief curator of the High Museum of
Art in Atlanta, Ga., who is also the guest curator of the exhibition.
"Philip Guston: Working Through the Forties" was organized by the
UI Museum of Art and was funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment
for the Arts. The exhibition will travel to other museums after it closes
at the UI.
The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, is open
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission
to the museum is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots
across from the museum on Riverside Drive, and adjacent to the UI Alumni Center,
which is just north of the museum.