Yesterday went finally got into San Francisco. I did the Geary St. galleries and then SFMOMA. They've got a great collection show on at present - Calder to Warhol and photographs from their permanent collection. Highlight was the room of late Guston paintings (four post-'69 late works and one '65 black blob paintings). The weird thing about it was receiving a text from a friend from NZ who has a common interest in Guston - spooky.
I also got to see 'A Life Lived', a doco on Guston and his painting filmed in the early 1970's then again in 1980 during his retrospective at SFMOMA just before he passed away. I missed screenings of this doco in 2003, when I visited the retrospective in San Fran, then again in london in 2004 when the retrospective was at the Royal Academy, then again at the Drawings exhibition at the Morgan Library, NYC in 2008, so I'm now glad that I've seen it. The funniest part of the documentary is that he's 'demonstrating' how he paints a painting - a klan hangover painting - all the techniques and brushstroke styles are whisked up on the linen - a total performance, then at the end of the movie, the painting is destroyed and erased out (obviously when the cameramen are out of the studio) so all we see is a faux-act of painting, a performance for the camera - nothing is really gained by the viewer watching it. He was obviously very aware of the camera during the whole filming process over the ten year span - he's constantly spiking the lens. The most interesting aspect of the film is Guston's demeanor. In the earlier filming, he's confident in his performance, yet in interviews from 1980, he's quite anxious, unsure and hesitant. In a floor-talk, he's asked by an British woman, what would he like to leave behind, as in a legacy, to which he states he's never thought about it, but that he wants to end up in the same place as Goya and a simple pat on the back from the members of his pantheon and a "good work, sonny" comment would do him just fine.

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