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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

The Painter

Photo: Spike Mafford / Zocalo Studios. Courtesy of the Friday Foundation

The Painter


Philip Guston

American, 1913-1980

In 1970, Philip Guston shocked the art world with an exhibition of new work at the Marlborough Gallery, which had been influenced by his feelings as result of the political and social unrest in the United States during the late 1960s. For Guston, using a “hooded figure” inspired by de Chirico and the robes worn by members of the Ku Klux Klan, the image of the hooded figure became a metaphor for the banality of evil and personal accountability. The self-reflexive view of the painter was a recurring theme in his later work, and The Painter continues this theme, casting the artist as an observer from a place of hiding.
Oil on canvas
74 × 116 in. (188 × 294.6 cm)
Gift of the Friday Foundation in honor of Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis
Provenance: George W. Clark, Virginia; [David McKee Gallery, New York]; purchased from gallery by Jane and Richard Lang, Seattle, Washington, 1982
Photo: Spike Mafford / Zocalo Studios. Courtesy of the Friday Foundation
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistoryNew York, New York, David McKee Gallery, Inaugural Exhibition, Oct. - Nov. 1981.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, The Richard and Jane Lang Collection, Feb. 2 - Apr. 1, 1984. Text by Bruce Guenther and Barbara Johns. Cat. no. 16, pp. 31-32.

Seattle, Seattle Art Museum, SAM at 75: Building a Collection for Seattle, May 5 - Sept. 9, 2007.
Published ReferencesA Community of Collectors: 75th Anniversary Gifts to the Seattle Art Museum. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum and University of Washington Press, 2008. Reproduced p. 39.

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.

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