- Museum number
'Untitled', satirical drawing depicting the heads of President Richard Nixon (1913-1994), Vice President Spiro Agnew (1918-1996) and Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger (born 1923). To the left, Agnew's cone-shaped head is surrounded by golf paraphernalia, including balls, tees and golf-clubs, with which he is propped up; Nixon is depicted in the centre, with a phallic nose pointing downward, testicle-like jowls and a brooding expression, and Kissinger is represented to the right by a pair of eyes behind crab-like thick-rimmed spectacles. 1971
Ink on paper
- Production date
Height: 267 millimetres
Width: 352 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- One of around 180 satirical drawings made by Philip Guston over the summer of 1971 in his studio in Woodstock, New York, on the subject of President Richard Nixon (1913-1994) and his administration. Guston was fascinated and disturbed by Nixon, his exact contemporary, and what he considered to be a morally corrupt administration. He was encouraged to make the drawings by his friend, novelist Philip Roth (b. 1933), who was at that time writing 'Our Gang', a political satire centred on the character of ‘Trick E. Dixon’. Guston selected 73 drawings from the group of 180 to form a narrative of Nixon’s rise to the presidency and his upcoming visit to China, which he called the 'Poor Richard' series in homage to Benjamin Franklin’s 'Poor Richard Almanak' of 1732-58. Although originally intended to form a book, the series was never published and was not exhibited until 2001 when it was shown at the McKee Gallery in New York.
The British Museum's drawing was not included in the 'Poor Richard' series but it is a fully realized, finished work that may have been excluded to avoid repetition. The drawing features three of the primary characters featured in the series: Nixon himself, who had become President in 1968 and was, at that time, campaigning for re-election in 1972; Spiro Agnew, Nixon’s Vice President, who was often viewed as being dim-witted, and Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s closest advisor. Throughout the drawings Nixon is depicted with a face resembling male genitals and his self-pitying nature is parodied. Agnew is depicted with a cone-shaped head, sometimes with nails (or golf tees) in his neck, and is often accompanied by golf paraphernalia in reference to his love of playing the game. Kissinger, the US Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, is represented by his thick-rimmed glasses. In this drawing, Agnew’s head is supported by crutches resembling golf clubs, Nixon’s phallic nose rests on the ground and Kissinger’s spectacles appear crab-like alongside. They appear to be on sand, perhaps at Key Biscayne, Nixon’s Florida retreat, where the figures are all located on the title page to the 'Poor Richard' series. John Mitchell, the Attorney General, also appears repeatedly in the drawings as a scrotum-faced figure smoking a pipe, but he is absent from this particular drawing.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2018-2019, Oct 4 – 27 Jan, London, BM G90, Recent Acquisitions: Gozzoli to Kara Walker
2019-2020 Sep-Jan, London, BM, G90, Pushing Paper: Contemporary drawing from 1970 to now
2020 29 Feb - 17 Mar, Durham, Oriental Museum, Pushing Paper: contemporary drawing from 1970 to now
2020 19 Sep-23 Oct and 11-29 Nov, Swansea, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Pushing Paper: contemporary drawing from 1970 to now
2021-2022 2 Oct – 5 Feb, Barnsley, Cooper Gallery, Pushing paper: contemporary drawing from 1970 to now
2022 2 Apr-4 Jun, Stromness, Pier Arts Centre, Pushing paper: contemporary drawing from 1970 to now
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- In the possession of the artist and his estate until it was acquired by the British Museum.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number