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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

The Fable

The Fable


Philip Guston

American, 1913-1980

Troubled by the violent racial clashes in the United States during the 1960s, as well as the Vietnam War, Philip Guston decided to return to figurative paintings like The Fable late in his career. The cartoonish style connected the subject matter to a human history of calamity and suffering that extends far beyond the immediate moment—a sharp contrast to the socially-engaged realist paintings and murals he made as a young artist. A friend of Jackson Pollock since the late 1920s, the candid subjects of Guston’s late work were not well received when first shown in New York in the 1970s, as they followed two decades of paintings that were entirely dedicated to gestural abstraction.
Oil on canvas
46 3/4 x 68 1/4 in. (118.75 x 173.36 cm)
Gift of Musa Guston
Provenance: Given to SAM in 1992 after Musa Guston, Philip Guston's wife, passed away.
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, "Contemporary Art from SAM Collection", March 8, 2014- August 17, 2014, (3/8-8/17/2014)

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, "Modern in America", July 8, 2004 - February 27, 2005 (7/8/2004 - 2/27/2005)

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, "Anne Gerber Biennial: 2000 ½: going forward looking back," June 8 - July 16, 2000.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, "Modern in America," July 8, 2004- February 27, 2005.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, "Unpretty Pictures (Reinstallation of Galleries 411,412, and 413)", June 26, 1997-January 30, 1998.

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.