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Philip Guston's Poor Richard 1st Edition

5 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 000-0226036227
ISBN-10: 0226036227
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

In 1971, as the race for the presidency heated up, the artist Philip Guston (1913-1980) created a series of caricatures of Richard Nixon titled Philip Guston's Poor Richard. Produced two years before Watergate and three years before Nixon's resignation, these provocative, searing condemnations of a corrupt head of state are remarkable, prescient political satire. The drawings mock Nixon's physical attributes—his nose is rendered as an enlarged phallus throughout-as well as his notoriously dubious, shifty character. Debra Bricker Balken's book is the first book—length publication of these drawings.

A visual narrative of Nixon's life, the drawings trace Nixon from his childhood, through his ascent to power, to his years in the White House. They incorporate Henry Kissinger (a pair of glasses), Spiro Agnew (a cone-head), and John Mitchell (a dolt smoking a pipe). They depict Nixon and his cohorts in China, plotting strategy in Key Biscayne, and shamelessly pandering to African Americans, hippies, and elderly tourists.

As Balken discusses in her accompanying essay, these drawings also reflect a dramatic transformation in Guston's work. In response to social unrest and the Vietnam War, he began to question the viability of a private art given to self-expression. His betrayal of aesthetic abstraction in favor of imagery imbued with personal and political meaning largely engendered the renewal of figuration in painting in America in the 1970s. These drawings not only represent one of the few instances of an artist in the late twentieth century engaging caricature in his work, they are also a witty, acerbic take on a corrupt figure and a scandalous political regime.

About the Author

Debra Bricker Balken is an independent curator and writer. She has assembled numerous exhibitions in the United States, including a retrospective of Arthur Dove's work at the Addison Gallery of American Art. She is the author of several books and catalogues, including Arthur Dove: A Retrospective and Alfredo Jaar: Lament of the Images.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 104 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (May 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226036227
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226036229
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,091,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on December 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is an amazing book. It's witty, scatalogical, AND handsome. STarting in 1969 and continuing up to the eve of Watergate, American modern artist Philip Guston developed a series of ruthless cartoons lampooning Richard Nixon's rise to power. Metanymic in strategy, Nixon's physiognomy is rendered as a very [...phallic] schnoz and [...similarly-themed]jowls; Kissinger is simply a pair of horn-rimmed glasses skipping along beside; etc. We see Nixon ascend from a homely quaker childhood, survive the Checkers scandal, and eventually triumph in his second bid for the presidency. We accompany him to Key Biscayne and to China...all via Guston's comic vision. This book is a must for anyone interested in the 1960s, in political cartoons, in Nixon, or in Philip Guston's career.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Too bad that Guston's drawings of "Tricky Dick" weren't published at the time he did them. It would have been a case of art in clear service to the public's best interest. It's well that they're available now.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the most brilliant pieces of political satire of the XXth century, Guston's series of drawings on what could be called "Nixon's adventures and woes" is magnificently rendered in these pages which enable the reader to follow the character's presidential career through the witty and implacable eye of a great artist. The illustrations are wonderful (you almost feel that you are holding the actual original drawings) and show the scope and depth of Guston's art, whose importance has steadily grown over the years. An interesting essay places these works in the historical context of the late 1960's and early 1970's, a period when the artist radically evolved from soft abstraction to crude figuration.
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