Don’t Look Away From Philip Guston’s Cartoonish Paintings of Klansmen


AThe person who saw one Know the rest of Philip Guston’s representational paintings. So, strictly literally, the visual universe that Gaston began to create in the late 1960s is impossible to be unrecognizable when he rejects the abstraction that dominated the art world of New York at the time. Gaston is painted in thick, plump pink and is usually outlined in red or black instead of filling his figure.His commitment to this palette is in her memoirs, according to his daughter Musameyer. Night studioWhen Gaston died in 1980, she and her mother inherited “hundreds of tubes of cadmium red medium, mars black, and titanium white.”

Many of his pink canvases are self-portraits, and he appears as a huge worried head, wrinkles on all foreheads, and wide eyes. Many show that they inflate household items such as cherries, cigarettes, bottles, and light bulbs in menacing proportions. And many are full of puffy, cartoon-like Ku Klux Klansmen. Usually, according to Meyer, he stares at bottles of alcohol, smokes, and engages in activities born out of the creator’s daily life, such as his 1969 work. studioWear a hooded white robe and draw a self-portrait.

Gaston’s 1969 painting studio (Artepics / Alamy)

The image of Gaston’s Clansmen, which he called “hood,” is impressive in their ability to allow both painters and spectators to think about the proximity of evil. However, in September 2020, months after the Black Lives Matter protest following the murder of George Floyd, four major museums were working on Gaston’s work because of the desire to “reconstruct programming.” The retrospective exhibition of was postponed. (The exhibition is currently being held at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and will move to three other venues over the next two years.) Obviously, their concern is that Gaston’s Clansmen is misinterpreted or in sufficient context. It was not seen. Many in the art world have accused the museum of avoiding Gaston’s willingness to look head-on at racist violence and his own collusion against it. Gaston wore his Clansman shoes to better understand the human being behind the hood. (He once said, “What do you do? [Klansmen] Would you like to do it later? Or before? Smoke, drink, sit around the room … patrol the empty streets. Are you stupid, depressed, sinful, afraid, repentant, and reassuring each other?

With a newly re-released book Gaston in timeNovelist and critic Ross Feld praised Gaston’s abilities and willingness to infuse even “the most upset and disturbing image” with “hairy, goofy friendliness.” He wasn’t wrong about friendliness: The hood looks like Hershey’s kiss crossed the Moomin. Still, drawing Clansmen in a friendly way doesn’t hurt them. Gaston undoubtedly tricked viewers into staying longer and keeping an eye out by portraying them so roughly that it would take some time to identify them.

NEither Feld or Mayer is involved Reminding me of this idea, it seems important to me to work on food painting, which Gaston debuted at the famous show at the Marlboro Gallery in 1970, from the perspective of a white American Jew. Seems to be. Gaston’s parents Live (later Louis) Goldstein and Rachel Ellen Live were Jews who fled anti-Semitism in Odesa, Ukraine. When Gaston was a kid, his family moved from Montreal to Los Angeles. There, the clans were visibly powerful. As a young factory worker, Gaston participated in a strike where Kran Smen helped bankruptcy. Some of his early works were KKK’s candid and brutal illustrations, which he recalled in his 1978 lecture. When he exhibited them in the early 1930s, “some members of the clan came in, removed the paintings from the walls and cut them.” Gaston was directly aware of the potential effects of his art. He was also directly aware of anti-Semitism and fear of the clan.

But by the time he began painting Clansmen in the years leading up to the Marlboro show, Gaston’s racial status in the United States had changed significantly. In the 1930s, as he said in his lecture, European Jews were rarely considered white when he embarked on “drawing or taking pictures of the KKK.” By the 1960s, they were wider. After the Holocaust, explicit anti-Semitism looked like a declasse. Informal Jewish assignments seemed to disappear from college admission, and marriage became more common.

Interestingly, at the moment when it seemed to help assimilation, Gaston turned in the opposite direction. He appeared indifferent to adapting to the mainstream at the time. He said he began painting the hood at the 1968 Democratic National Convention as a horrifying reaction to police violence. that’s all. “And he began to admit shamefulness later in life by Anglicizing his family name from Goldstein in his early twenties.” He made his choice to paint Clansmen, Russia. Compared to the decision of the great Jewish writer Isaac Babel to paint the Cossacks.Meyer wrote: Night studio As he said, he left an abstraction because he felt the urge to “create a’golem'”, a reference to the Jewish legendary living clay giant. These reference points reflect the fact that he was able to succeed, like his best friend Philip Roth. that’s why Not Jewish apart from His Jewish. Gaston may have de-Jewish himself and disappeared white. He made the whiteness visible instead.

Pink, white, black and red paintings of three people dressed in white sheets driving a car
Philip Guston’s 1969 painting City restrictions (Atrepics / Alamy)

Some critics, including influential Harold Rosenberg, responded positively to Gaston’s hood paintings with challenging themes and clumsy contours, but much of the art world was despised and embarrassed by them. Did. (Feld was one of the few viewers who responded positively to Marlboro’s show, and he remained an avid fan.) For years, Gaston has been an abstract expressionist tradition (Feld is “the deepest”. I call it “one of the Protestant art history”). He paints in different colors and often focuses on the deep quest for a single hue. When he started painting the hood, he got his signature pink — it wasn’t just me. Any pink. Gaston worked with a streaky, pale belly tone on the skin of an unhealthy Caucasian man. He was a greedy eater, smoker, and drinker, often ignoring doctor’s advice. In some pictures, his face is the color of his art. Finding Gaston from the other side of the room is, in a sense, finding the various whiteness of the painter himself.

Pink also evokes femininity. Gaston’s later art is full of cartoon femininity, not only in the color of his canvas, but also in the cluttered and bulging curves of the country. Occasionally this tendency becomes sexual — for example Cherry (1976), as Feld explains, but more generally, Gaston opts for a monotonous home scene. Many of his paintings draw viewers into closets, storage rooms, and so on.of Flatland (1970), two hoods staring at a dirty pinkish landscape littered with clocks, old shoes, books and basketball. They may be standing in the attic and preparing to sort out what Feld calls “the junk of life.”

Feld praises Gaston’s willingness to paint everyday objects and does it in a stereotypically feminine way, with what he implies, and what I’m certainly seeing. Quoting from theatrologist Jonas Barrish, Feld argues that Abstract Expressionism urged artists to suppress their emotions in favor of creating “works that prove their inner beliefs.” However, Gaston embraced his “historical impulse” and infused dignity and threat into the wreckage of the home, turning it into an “embarrassing and even tragic still life surrounding humans.”of FlatlandGaston’s hood seems to be overwhelming, if not embarrassing. They get lost in the sea of ​​junk in the country and look helpless, but their white robes are still painted in pale pink and even greyish-gray, and they still see it stupid not to be afraid of them. I am warning you.

WHail to visit Baltimore I found Guston’s 1974 painting at the “Guarding the Art” exhibition at the museum in April. Oracle From a full room away. Of course it is pink. Half of the canvas is littered with shoes piled up in a way reminiscent of a pile of personal belongings found in a concentration camp. A big head, which tends to replace Gaston, stares at them. A closet-style or dungeon-style light bulb hangs above his head. Behind him is a pair of hoods, one with a whip to attack him. My immediate interpretation of the picture was that it portrays the habits I perceive from my Jewish family and community: a present full of threats to Jews and non-Jews. Instead of looking, we are obsessed with the dangers of the past.

But then I remembered Gaston saying he saw himself behind the hood. (Ask about whether the hooded person could be himself, he said it happened to him, adding, “Well, it could be all of us.” Avatar, the painting transformed for me. It remained a portrait of Jewish fear. It also aroused the sins of American Jews who could not prevent the horror of the hoodie. It became a recognition of the painter’s own closeness to power and whiteness. Gaston’s hood paintings are reminiscent of the discomfort and dissonance of this reality. They put viewers in cramped cars and rooftops. Not only evil, but unresolved conspiracy, confusion, and shame.

Novelist Dara Horn argued that Jewish literature tends to reject proper endings. She sees this tendency as a sign of “realism born of humility, the knowledge of being unfaithful to human experience while pretending to understand the world.” Gaston’s hood painting probably belongs to this embarrassing tradition. Gaston didn’t know what to say about the clan, or about ethnic violence, but he knew he was afraid of it as a Jew, opposed to it as a white American, and felt involved. Was there.Almost 50 years since he drew OracleTo be honest, I can’t say I know more.



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