Philip Guston, American, The Road, 1972, Oil on canvas; 130.2 x 301.6 cm (51 1/4 x 118 3/4 inches), Gift of the Estate of Musa Guston 1992.059.2
Philip Guston’s seminal pictures of the late 1960s and ’70s feature familiar objects in enigmatic settings, rendered in broad, painterly brushstrokes. Piles of shoes, discarded paint cans, and coffee mugs appear under a laundry line or telephone wires on the wide, horizontal canvas of The Road. These objects occur repeatedly in Guston’s late-period paintings, drawn from his immediate studio surroundings and memories. During the 1950s, Guston was well established as an Abstract Expressionist; therefore many artists and critics were shocked when he later abandoned abstraction in favor of the more personal, cartoonlike, figurative style seen here. A number of younger painters admired this new direction and were greatly influenced by the boldness and individuality of Guston’s late work.