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Bad Times

A work made of oil on canvas.
© The Estate of Philip Guston

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.




Philip Guston
American, born Canada, 1913–1980

About this artwork

In the late 1960s, painter Philip Guston made a radical shift. Previously acclaimed for lush, luminous abstract works, he turned to crude, awkward renderings of often-sinister figures and objects. “I got sick and tired of that purity,” he declared. “I wanted to tell stories.” In an outpouring of figurative work near the end of his career that employed recurring imagery such as cartoonish Ku Klux Klansmen and piles of prone legs with the soles of their shoes exposed, Guston addressed sociopolitical issues as well as his own artistic conflicts. Starkly titled, Bad Times is dominated by brushy, almost pearlescent passages of paint that seem at odds with, but that also ground, a graphic scene of violence or its aftermath.


Currently Off View


Contemporary Art


Philip Guston


Bad Times


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil on canvas


182.9 × 289.6 cm (72 × 114 in.)

Credit Line

Bequest of Musa Guston

Reference Number



© The Estate of Philip Guston

Extended information about this artwork

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