Jon Imber

American, 1950–2014

Portrait of Philip Guston in a Green Coat

1981 Oil on canvas

Since the beginning of his career, artist Jon Imber has used painting to explore relationships between biological and artistic family. Central to the exhibition Jon Imber: Carry On are portraits of his father Harold Imber and his mentor Philip Guston, a larger-than-life Expressionist painter who taught Imber at Boston University. Created from memory and imagination, these commemorative portraits inspire consideration of the artist’s “carry paintings,” which depict fathers physically carrying sons and men carrying female lovers. Created over the space of thirty years, they reveal not only Imber’s acceptance, but also his embrace of the weighty responsibility we feel for those we love. Recent work explores responsibility of a different kind—Imber’s determination to keep on painting despite his diagnosis with ALS. Portraits of family and friends created within the last year reveal sharp visual intelligence that no longer relies on facility, making this some of his most interesting and expressive work to date.

Gift of Nina Nielsen and John Baker, 2011.48