The Easel

Resilience: Philip Guston In 1971

In 1970 Guston was an esteemed abstractionist – but he wanted out. He returned to figuration. His first show of that work caused such uproar that he fled to Rome. There he was prolific. Unflattering drawings of President Nixon; deliberately clumsy paintings of lumpy figures and lumpy objects. The paintings, now famous, have a human feel but are obscure. Guston agreed: “I look at my paintings, speculate about them. They baffle me, too.”