New York

Philip Guston

David McKee Gallery

A tidbit of journalistic wisdom from the ’20s: “The difference between a conservative and a radical is that the conservative has got his.” Since the conservative has everything, he is interested in preserving the status quo. Would that it were so easy today to distinguish conservative tenacity from radical action—in either the political arena or on the art scene. Just as the strident antiwar activist of the ’60s finds her militarist dander ruffled by the current events in Iran and Pakistan, a painting that would’ve seemed retardataire in 1969 seems peculiarly appropriate to the 1979 mood. Notions of conservatism and radicalism don’t make much sense in an atmosphere where there are no norms to conserve or from which abruptly to take leave. The focus knob to this fuzzy issue is determining who’s got his—as the axiom suggests, the true conservative.

Philip Guston is someone who’s got his, but

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