Ride, Philip Guston
Philip Guston
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Philip Guston

Ride, 1969

132 x 152.5 cm
Physical Description
Oil on canvas
Inventory Number
Acquired in 2014 with funds from the Städelkomitee 21. Jahrhundert, property of Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.
On display, lower level, Contemporary Art, room 25


About the Work

Two comic-like, hooded figures in an automobile: Ride is a self-portrait, even if it doesn’t initially convey that impression. In fact, Guston disguises himself and his wife so that they seem to be members of the Ku Klux Klan even though, as the son of Russian Jews, he himself suffered at the hands of this violent, racist group. In their frozen movement, the two silent, mutually supporting figures symbolise both the artist’s biography and the racism in the society and history of the USA. Moreover, the smoking cigar in the fingers turns the picture into a sarcastic allusion to the evanescence and depths of life. But in addition to this level of biographical contents, Ride also mirrors Guston’s artistic provenance. The serially arranged, sheeplike clouds make reference to the arrays of Minimal Art, while the abstract background points back to his own early oeuvre in the context of the Colour Field Painting of the 1950s. It was only in the late 1960s that Guston abandoned Abstract Expressionism in favour of a fully new, figurative phase in his artistic output.


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