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Red Cloth

Philip Guston

Contemporary Art

In the mid-1960s Philip Guston made a radical shift from lyrical abstraction to a cartoonlike style that reimagined scenes of historic brutality. In Red Cloth, Guston reckons with images from the Holocaust, the state-sponsored persecution and murder of Jews and others deemed undesirable by the Nazi regime during World War II. Illuminated by a single naked light bulb, the severed legs and boots recall the mounds of shoes that the Allied troops found in 1945 at the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Dachau, and Bergen-Belsen. A brilliant vermillion tapestry held aloft by two hands, which reference Manus Dei, or the Hand of God, an ancient Judeo-Christian motif, offsets the barren room. In Guston’s imaginative narrative, God’s intervention cannot stop the horrors of genocide.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
DATES 1976
DIMENSIONS 78 × 105 1/2 × 1 1/2 in. (198.1 × 268 × 3.8 cm)  (show scale)
MARKINGS Paper label attached to crossbar, left half, "49. RED CLOTH 1976 78 x 105 1/2"
SIGNATURE Upper left verso: PHILIP GUSTON/"RED CLOTH" 1976 OIL ON CANVAS/78 x 105 1/2"
COLLECTIONS Contemporary Art
CREDIT LINE Bequest of Musa Guston
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Philip Guston (American, born Canada, 1913–1980). Red Cloth, 1976. Oil on canvas, 78 × 105 1/2 × 1 1/2 in. (198.1 × 268 × 3.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Musa Guston, 1992.211.2. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1992.211.2_PS9.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 1992.211.2_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2013
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RIGHTS STATEMENT © artist or artist's estate
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