MFA Houston—Focus on the Figure: Giacometti, Guston, and the Cullen Sculpture Garden

Thursday, November 17, 2022



At the middle of the 20th century, avant-garde artists pursued the reductive impulses of modern art until they eliminated the human figure from their subject matter. Eventually, in reaction to Abstract Expressionism, a later generation returned to "figuration."


This daytrip is designed around artists who confronted the human figure as a problematic subject: Giacometti, whose artistic crisis reduced the human figure to long knobby sticks, and Philip Guston, who returned to figural painting in the waning days of AbEx.


Alberto Giacometti (Swiss)

Worked in the decades of Surrealism that led to Abstract Expressionism. His figural sculpture reflects the anxieties of society between the world wars and the existential difficulty in finding human connection.


Philip Guston (American)

Turned away from figural art to abstraction at mid-century, then returned to the figure. This retrospective exhibition of 73 paintings and 27 drawings includes works that have rarely been seen; a reunion of paintings from a major show in 1970; and works from his final major series.


Cullen Sculpture Garden

Offers a selection of works that celebrate the human figure in modern sculpture, some that manipulate it, and others that dramatize the challenge of the figure in the period of Abstract Expressionism.


Lunch at MFAH's Cafe Leonelli