(Montreal, Canada, 1913 - 1980)
Oil on paper mounted to Masonite
22 1/8 in. x 29 3/4 in. (56.2 cm x 75.57 cm)
Signed, lower right: "Philip Guston"
Gift of Algie Hill Neill in memory of her husband, John H. Neill, Jr.
Philip Guston’s "Road" is a striking example from a sixteen-year period in which the artist created abstract compositions. The central focus of "Road" is a large black mass of angular brushstrokes that appear as if they are trying to configure into recognizable form. Pockets of red, orange, blue, and green surround the central black mass. Overall the painting has a gray-blue tone. However, dark blues, greens, oranges, blacks, and reds are visible underneath the gray wash—an indication that Guston worked and reworked the painting before adding the final layers of color.
Sometimes after it’s completion in 1959, Guston consigned "Road" to the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York. The Gallery held a Guston exhibition from December 28, 1959 until January 23, 1960. While "Road" was not included in the exhibition, it was available at the Gallery for sale. The painting did not sell, and was eventually returned to that artist. "Road" then remained in Guston’s home or studio until after his death, when the estate gave it to the David McKee Gallery in New York on consignment. It was then bought by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.
(1904 - 1990)
1941, repainted 1970
Oil on canvas
32 in. x 48 in. (81.28 cm x 121.92 cm)
Monogrammed, lower right: "B G"
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase with the aid of a National Endowment for the Arts grant
Balcomb Green was a painter and major spokesperson for the organization American Abstract Artists. Reelected to the leadership position in 1939 and again in 1940, he was a driving force behind its mission to support the work of native abstract artists. He helped to write the charter of the society and edit the organization’s magazine. The cover he designed for the publication in 1938 demonstrates his style at that time: neat geometric precision, with lines dividing the composition into exact shapes. In 1941 a fire in Greene’s studio destroyed or severely damaged much his work, with the exception of a few paintings that had been sold or loaned. "Space Composition" was conceived and painted by Greene at around the time of the fire, but the museum’s canvas dates to 1970. It was “reconstructed by him on a new canvas from the remains of the original canvas which had been badly damaged in the fire.” This body of work—"Space Composition" along with two other works from 1941, "Blue Space" and "Monument in Yellow" (locations unknown)—was only one manifestation of Greene’s style. His geometric abstract style was replaced later in the 1940s with a form of figurative abstraction.