Once a member of the New York School of Abstract Expressionists, Philip Guston later developed a more post-modern style that used cartoonish figures to comment on American society. The Three (above) from 1970 shows a trio of hooded Klansmen, taking the very real issues of racism and hate crimes and putting the clown nose of absurdity on them.
Guston met Jackson Pollock in high school and their career paths paralleled for a while. Like Pollock, Guston painted in a more representational style before the 1950s, although his work showed more Renaissance influences than that of Pollock, who had discovered Jung by that point. Guston painted in the same Abstract Expressionist style as Pollock and De Kooning up until the 1960s, until he found abstraction to be unsatisfying. What Guston ultimately found satisfying was taking the drama of Richard M. Nixon’s presidency and revealing it for the absurdity is was in his Poor Richard series. Nixon, Nixon’s Vice President Spiro Agnew, and the then Attorney General John N. Mitchell receive the Guston treatment in one of the Poor Richard drawings above.