oil on canvas
United States
Unframed: 46 × 30 in. (116.84 × 76.2 cm)
Framed: 54 1/2 × 38 1/2 in. (138.43 × 97.79 cm)

Today better known for his 1950s experiments with gestural abstraction and his 1970s cartoonish figuration, Philip Guston began his career as a mural painter. The Sculptor belongs to a series of transnational easel pictures he produced while on the faculty at the University of Iowa. Its matte surface, suggestive of the artist’s fondness for fresco, is infused with a neo-romantic, moody sentiment echoed in the dusky palette and stoic figure.

The painting depicts Humbert Albrizio, a direct carver of wood and stone who, like Guston, moved to Iowa from New York to join the university’s art department. Direct carving – equated with a greater sense of immediacy and artistic “truth” than earlier traditions of modeling or casting – was the most popular mode of modern sculptural production. The Sculptor was featured in VMFA’s Fifth Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting, where it won for Guston the John Barton Payne Medal and was purchased for the museum’s permanent collection.

Signed and dated lower left: "Philip Guston / 1943"
John Barton Payne Fund
Philip Guston: Working Through the Forties, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, January 18 – March 16, 1997; Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, SC, April 9 – June 29, 1997; Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute of Art, Utica, NY, November 15, 1997 – January 1, 1998

Special Loan Exhibition, Mary Washington College, Fredericksburg, Va., May 6 – 20, 1953

Philip Guston, The University Gallery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, April 10 – May 12, 1950

[No Title], Mary Washington College, Fredericksburg, Va., May 3 – 7, 1948

[No Title], Norfolk Museum of Arts & Sciences (now the Chrysler Museum of Art), 1947

New Accessions USA, Colorado Springs Fine Art Center, Colorado Springs, CO, July 15 – September 2, 1946

Philip Guston, Midtown Galleries, New York, N.Y., January 15 – February 3, 1945
O’Leary, Elizabeth L., Sylvia Yount, Susan Jensen Rawles, and David Park Curry. American Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Charlottesville: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts with the University of Virginia Press, 2010. (No. 133, p 393-398).

Philip Guston, Working Through the Forties. Iowa City, IA: The University of Iowa Museum of Art, 1997. Exhibition catalog. (No. 5, p. 8, 10, 16-17, 25 (illus.), 54).

Philip Guston. Minneapolis, MN: The University Gallery, University of MInnesota, 1950. Exhibition catalog.

New Accessions USA. Colorado Springs, CO: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 1946. Exhibition catalog. (No. 62, n.p.).

"Virginia Biennial Opens in Richmond." The Art Digest 20, no. 12 (March 15, 1946): 8-9.

The Fifth Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Paintings. Richmond, Va.: The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1946. Exhibition catalog. (No. 85, p.7 & cover illustration).

Philip Guston. New York: Midtown Galleries, 1945. Exhibition catalog.

Frost, Rosamund. "Critic's Choice at the Armory Show." Art News 44, no. 12 (October 1 -14, 1945): 25.

© artist or artist’s estate

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.