The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced the transformative promised gift of 220 works by Philip Guston (1913–1980) from the personal collection of Musa Mayer, the artist’s daughter. Consisting of 96 paintings and 124 drawings—the earliest created in 1930 and the latest made in 1980—the collection represents the full arc of Guston’s career. Ultimately, the gift will position The Met as the largest repository of works by the iconic American painter.
The collection of Musa Mayer is notable for the many consequential and foundational works it comprises, the majority created during the last three decades of Guston’s life, when he was especially innovative and prolific. Highlights of the promised gift include: Mother and Child (c. 1930), Untitled (1958), The Three (1964), The Studio (1969), Pantheon (1973), Pittore (1973), Yellow Light (1975), Both (1976), Floor (1976), Aegean II (1977), Sleeping (1977), The Line (1978), and Flame (1979).
The Museum also announced a major gift of $10 million from Musa and Thomas Mayer to establish The Philip Guston Endowment Fund, which will be used to support initiatives related to the collection, advance scholarship regarding Guston, and further the artist’s legacy.
“This truly extraordinary gift from Musa Mayer marks a major moment in the history of The Met. Philip Guston is one of the most consequential artists of the 20th century, whose restless experimentalism has inspired generations of artists. Through this gift, The Met becomes the leading center for the study of his oeuvre and its lasting impact.
We are tremendously grateful to Musa for bestowing on us the great honor and responsibility of serving as the primary caretaker of her father’s legacy going forward,” said Max Hollein, Marina Kellen French Director of The Met. “Musa Mayer has been an extraordinary custodian of Philip Guston’s work for the last four decades and is one of the most sensitive writers and historians of his oeuvre. Her deep understanding and profound philanthropy are shining examples of remarkable artistic and institutional support.”
“For over four decades now, this personal collection of my father’s paintings and drawings has served—and continues to serve—as a crucial source for exhibition loans,” said Musa Mayer. “That The Met—this amazing museum of world art—has agreed to prominently display and permanently house Philip Guston’s work in the city where he lived and worked is a deeply moving commitment to his legacy.
My father was passionate about art and artists of the past. His influences spanned centuries. Yet his paintings resonate with artists working today. So, it’s immensely gratifying to know that his best works will find a permanent home in the company of the masters he so loved.”
A selection of works from Musa Mayer’s gift will be on view in a special installation opening May 27, 2023. The display, which will focus on the artist’s deeply philosophical approach to the nature of artistic identity and the aesthetic possibilities of painting, will be organized by Kelly Baum, Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Curator of Contemporary Art in The Met’s Department of Modern and Contemporary Art.
Many of the works in this gift are on display in Philip Guston Now, the long-awaited retrospective currently on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston through mid-January. The exhibition opens at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC on March 2, 2023 and at the Tate Modern in London in October of next year.