Ku klux klan

How Philip Guston became a hero to a new generation of figurative painters

Why do painters represent things? There was a time when the answers seemed obvious. Art glorified power, earthly and divine, and provided moral exemplars of how to behave – in the case of sacred paintings – or how not to in the case of profane ones. When modernism threw all that into doubt, the picture frame remained. The question for modern artists was, what to put in it? Fifteen years of non-representational painting prompted Guston to question its usefulness For the first decade of his career, Philip Guston had an old-fashioned answer: the murals he painted in the style of Italian Renaissance frescoes in the US and Mexico during the

Ritualistic murder in 1920s America: Cahokia Jazz, by Francis Spufford, reviewed

Writers dealing with that knottiest of problems in fiction – to what extent can they describe cultures and societies not their own without appropriation, an insulting level of ignorance and/or launching a social media storm – are going about it in different ways. The latest novel by Sebastian Faulks is set in the future (where, pleasingly, everyone still needs a coat, phew). Val McDermid has gone the other way and returned to smoky, bottom-pinching years, starting with 1979. Francis Spufford’s solution to writing about race – and race in America at that – is to propose an alternate reality, invent an intensely detailed city to do it in, and extrapolate

The truth about my father, Philip Guston

Philip Guston’s later work is — and I say this with love — nails-down-a-blackboard weird. The vapid pinks and flat reds lend a nightmare cheerfulness. The menacing American figure wearing Mickey Mouse gloves is rendered in cartoonish style. The clock shows it is time to panic, challenging you to call out the hood for the Ku Klux Klan symbol it appears to be. By the time he started making these paintings, in 1968, Guston was pretty much post-everything: post-realism, post-abstract expressionism, post-criticism (he and his wife Musa sailed to Italy the day after the show’s opening night, and when a review found him in Venice, poste restante, he dropped it