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Gladiators

Philip Guston

Gladiators

Philip Guston
  • Date: 1940
  • Style: Social Realism
  • Genre: allegorical painting

Guston painted Gladiators in a social-realist style favored by many left-leaning artists in the 1930s, a style that reflected in part the political and aesthetic influence of the Mexican muralist movement led by Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. At the time he painted Gladiators, Guston was painting murals in New York as part of a Works Progress Administration (WPA) program. Hooded Klansmen first appeared in his work of the 1930s, in response to a Ku Klux Klan attack on one of his Los Angeles murals. Of these figures, Guston said, “They are self-portraits. I perceive myself as being behind the hood. … I almost tried to imagine that I was living with the Klan. What would it be like to be evil?”

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