The 1970s were a strange time, the world was going through a dramatic shift. The onset of digital technology was rising, the military had frightening power, and people had begun to get over the horror of the two world wars. A new breed of artist emerged from the roots laid down by the previous establishment. This new art had vibrancy and abstraction, it conjured mental images we could relate to yet discovered new ways of showing them. What society had become was defined in the subjects the era's painting depicted. A bright new future where power was real and money was made seemed on the doorstep. Exciting and dangerous, those at the forefront needed to project absolute confidence. This transposed into art, as the works of Philip Guston demonstrate.
The magical use of bright and bold upon plain untouched sections brings home a sense of absoluteness and focus. Even though the subjects are not associated with these things, a mindset portrayed by the headlines will no-doubt filter into the more mundane. When painters like Guston make the big-time, it reminds us that illustration doesn't have to be realistic. The depictions can be awkward and suggestive, provided they still immediately point to the reality of what they are. Perhaps the specific difference in abstract and impressionist is in this fundamental point. The abstract-impressionist chair is still a chair.
The online exhibition of Philip Guston at Hauser and Wirth exposes work of his career from the 1970s, in which a definitive style emerged. This became a guideline for many other artists to draw upon, who went on to make their own iconic and famous images.
Choose Love on Alternative Fruit is reader supported. Because of you, more people get to discover creativity and art for themselves. Thank you so much!
Follow the editor on Twitter