(Philip Guston, Untitled, circa 1969-1973)
Yes of course it’s worth it to go all the way to 57th Street to see the show of small paintings by Philip Guston at the McKee Gallery. I like to see how Guston was always working through questions about images and marks – about self and being; the exhibition presents the repeated imagery that became the artist’s personal vocabulary for his searching. Also, the vigorous brushstrokes teach me that he would push around the paint until his lines and shapes sat solidly on the canvas.
Down the hall, at Edwynn Houk, a show of Brassaï’s photographs from the 30s echo Guston’s human touch. Here are pictures of people being people. Their flesh is fleshy, their feelings are on their face, their un-self-consciousness is reflected in mirrors. And these are certainly pictures of a time past, hats, lipstick, waiters and all. You know that imminent war meant a last hurrah. What remains is fleeting tenderness, moments of interaction, subtly joyous, unhappy and sad.
(Brassaï, Au Bal Musette, Les ‘Quatre Saisons’ Rue de Lappe, 1932)