Guston's sketch of Nixon criticizing the hypocrisy behind his China campaign.
Guston’s sketch of Nixon criticizing the hypocrisy behind his China campaign.

Philip Guston “Laughter in the Dark”
Hauser & Wirth, NYC
November 1st – January 14th

November 1st, one week prior to the presidential general election, Hauser & Wirth opened ‘Philip Guston: Laughter in the Dark, Drawings from 1971 & 1975′, an exhibition devoted to the renowned late artist’s satirical caricatures of the 37th President of the United States: Richard Nixon.

Featuring some 180 works depicting Nixon and his peers, the exhibition includes Guston’s infamous Poor Richard series and brings together over 100 additional drawings and one painting never before been seen by the public. The exhibition marks the first time this entire body of work has been presented to the public at large.

Guston’s works were created at an historic moment, amidst the tumultuous political climate of the early 1970s. In his studio in Woodstock, New York, Guston’s distress over the political situation was fueled by conversations with his friend, the writer Philip Roth. The artist and the writer shared a distaste for American popular culture, and in Nixon discovered a subject they could each mimic and animate in art.

In May 1971, Philip Guston returned from an eight-month sojourn in Italy following the scathing critical response to his October 1970 Marlborough Gallery exhibition in New York. That first showing of his late paintings had been assailed by critics and admirers of high modernism as an act of heresy, a full-fledged betrayal of abstract painting.

During the summer of 1971, Roth had recently completed ‘Our Gang’, a satire of the Nixon administration. Guston’s response, an adaptation of the comic-strip style of caricature, emerged at a pivotal moment in his artistic career.

On view through 14 January 2017, ‘Philip Guston: Laughter in the Dark, Drawings from 1971 & 1975’ is the first to be presented in Hauser & Wirth’s new temporary space at 548 West 22nd Street. The exhibition is accompanied by a brief chronology that serves to remind viewers of the ‘highlights’ of Nixon’s career.

The exhibition is on display now until January 14th.

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