Figuration in post-war American art: Philip Guston at the Marlborough Gallery, 1970.


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


History of Art


The history of post-war American art typically has been framed in terms of a progressive defiance of figuration. The 33 paintings Philip Guston exhibited in 1970 at the Marlborough Gallery in New York, works primarily known for their return to figuration, provide an opportunity to reassess the canonical account of American modernism, and more specifically, the role of figuration within it. This study reconsiders and expands the conventional morphological conception of figuration in order to more fully understand post-war artistic production in the US. Guston’s commitment to engagings with social issues led him to explore such presumably preconceptual and non-visual spheres of experience as time as a means of figuring the real in his art by forging analogic correspondences between disparate historical events.