Philip Guston’s Nixon Drawings: Worthy of Goya, and On View for an Extra Two Weeks

THE DAILY PIC: At Hauser & Wirth, Guston's brilliant Nixons mix heft and complexity.

THE DAILY PIC (#1713): It is so, so very hard to get political art perfectly right. After all, it’s almost impossible to get art right, and just about as hard to politic effectively. (Just ask Hillary). Other than Goya, almost no one has managed to really combine the two perfectly – until Philip Guston that is, as demonstrated in his amazing show of Nixon drawings from the 1970s, now on view at Hauser & Wirth’s second Chelsea location in New York.

Yes, now on view, because the show has been extended another two weeks, for all of you who’ve been gnashing your teeth at missing it.


The stunning thing about Guston’s pokes at Nixon is how fiendishly complex they manage to be, in the tradition of all the best art, while still delivering a ferocious kick in the pants to our most corrupt and mendacious president (so far, or at least until January 20, 2017).

It’s almost as though the complexity of the Gustons, as great art, becomes part of their political message: Important art has all the cosmopolitan virtues; political evil is most often trivially simple-minded in its nastiness. Which, unfortunately, seems to make it that much more effective.


The best art, as I’ve often said, is a machine for thinking. Nixonian politics, or their Trumpian successor, work as a machine for un-thinking. (Image ©The Estate of Philip Guston, courtesy Hauser & Wirth)

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