Philip Guston (1913-1980)
Drawing for Conspirators
Graphite pencil, pen and ink, colored pencil, and wax crayon on paper
Sheet: 22 11/16 × 14 9/16 in. (57.6 × 37 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from The Hearst Corporation and The Norman and Rosita Winston Foundation, Inc.
Rights and Reproductions Information
© artist or artist’s estate
Philip Guston was just seventeen years old when he made this drawing. As a teenager growing up in Los Angeles, he had seen members of the Ku Klux Klan, and this work was probably based on that experience. From an early age, Guston was involved in left-wing politics and his sociopolitical concerns are clearly demonstrated in this boldly depicted scene. Dramatic modeling and the looming presence of the central figure convey the theme of oppression, as does the symbolic rope that hangs over blocks representing Louisiana and Mississippi. Guston’s visual analogy between the victim of a lynching and the crucified Christ can be seen at the back of the composition. The hooded figure in the foreground recurs throughout Guston’s work.