“The price of the abstract work has been higher than the figurative [art] because the number of works is less [and] many of them are already in museums,” said Kosme de Barañano, art history professor and author of Philip Guston & The Poets (2017). However, “the figurative work will very surely surpass the abstract in price in the coming years,” he added, when asked if iconic images such as City Limits (1969) and Riding Around (1969) might one day become more expensive than Guston’s abstract canvases. Davis concurred, affirming the possibility with a resounding “yes.”
Nevertheless, Davis acknowledged a generational split between established, older collectors of the abstract work and younger collectors of the figurative pictures. “My take is that the younger generation of collectors gravitates much more strongly towards his figurative works,” he said.
Barañano noted that this market dynamic is not universal, as there are also Guston completists. “There are collectors, less in number, who own work from both periods,” he said. “Guston has also been in the hands of very good connoisseur-gallerists [such] as David McKee [and] now Hauser & Wirth, who consider all the artist’s periods equally.”