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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: The artist; Estate of the artist; [David McKee Gallery, New York]; acquired from the above by Jane and Richard E. Lang, Seattle, 1982; Friday Foundation, Seattle, 2018; Seattle Art Museum, 2020
Photo: Spike Mafford / Zocalo Studios. Courtesy of the Friday Foundation
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum


Exhibition HistoryWaltham, Massachusetts, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Aspects of the 70s: Mavericks, May 22 - June 29, 1980. No cat. no., reproduced.

New 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. Cat. no. 16, pp. 31-32, reproduced.

Berlin, Germany, Martin-Gropius-Bau, American Art in the 20th Century: Painting and Sculpture 1913–1993, May 8 - July 25, 1993 (London, England, Royal Academy of Arts, Sept. 16 - Dec. 12, 1993). Cat. no. 227, reproduced.

Fort Worth, Texas, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Philip Guston, Mar. 30 - June 8, 2003 (San Francisco, California, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, June 28 - Sept. 17, 2003; New York, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Oct. 27, 2003 - Jan. 4, 2004; London, England, Royal Academy of Arts, Jan. 24 - Apr. 12, 2004). Cat. no. 103, p. 63, reproduced pl. 103.

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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