TABLE OF CONTENTS

TELLING TALES: PHILIP GUSTON IN RETROSPECT

On the occasion of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth’s traveling retrospective “PHILIP GUSTON,” Artforum asked art historian DAVID ANFAM to examine the career of a painter whose “untimely” return to storytelling pointed the way “back to the future.”

LIKE MANY A GOOD STORY, Philip Guston’s art starts in earnest with a bang. Although Bombardment, 1937–38, was not Guston’s first work, it certainly marks his most significant point of departure. True, its overly “plastic” modeling recalls the monumentalizing Art Deco staginess of umpteen WPA murals long since faded into historical oblivion. But we also seem close to the freeze-frame action of comic strips. While this is perhaps Guston’s Guernica, there remains another sense in which it resembles a Roy Lichtenstein combat scene of the early ’60s—only an emblazoned “WHAAM!” is missing—time-warped back into the era of the Mexican muralists. Yet

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW at the special holiday rate of $45 a year—70% off the newsstand price. You’ll receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the May 2003 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.