Philip Guston’s terrifically anatomical cartoons of Dick Nixon provide precedence for voters wondering how we got here.
Besides giving Nixon a phallic nose which like Pinocchio grows as Nixon lies – Guston presents Nixon as a grubby con man – with five o’clock shadow and shabby suits – cynically endearing himself to voters he doesn’t care about — hippies – the elderly – African-Americans.
Even distilled to little more than jowls – a widow’s peak and a schnoz – the characterization looks unmistakably like Richard Nixon.
And yet in the aftermath of the 2016 election it’s hard not to see the contemporary president-elect in Guston’s depiction.
Guston’s Nixon is a babbling blowhard who suffers under the weight of his own ambition.
The opening images in the series borrow a line from Nixon’s Republican National Convention acceptance speech.
(‘He hears the train go by at night and he dreams of faraway places where he’d like to go. It seems like an impossible dream.’) to satirize Nixon’s self-mythologizing.