As for the later hoods themselves: Guston delighted in telling stories with them, and in the expressions he could conjure in their almost blank visages.
At bottom, though, they were -- and are -- a reproach.
They are terrible in their ordinariness, surrounded with everyday bric-a-brac, glimpsed smoking or riding in a boxy car.
In "The Studio" one sketches a self-portrait, blood on his hand and costume.
The stitching in the hoods matches and merges with the window slits in the buildings Guston painted.
His hoods are knitted into society.
They are everywhere.
These works are an indictment of racism, glaring or insidious, not a case of it.
But it appeared today's viewers might not get a chance to see that for themselves.
In 2020 the exhibition (already hit by the pandemic) was postponed by the four museums involved in it, initially until 2024.
Opponents of censorship protested, as did many artists.
Some thought the delay smelled like a cancellation, and that "Philip Guston Now", the show's title, might become Philip Guston Never.
They were wrong.
Ahead of the mooted schedule, it opens on May 1st at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston, and will be adapted in Houston, Washington and London.
It is a magnificent exhibition and -- at a febrile, polarised time -- an important one.
The MFA brought in African-American curators and has carefully laid out the political context of Guston's life and work.
Visitors can avoid the hoods if they choose to: they can make up their own minds.
But with a few forgivable exceptions, the intended artworks are there; Guston's vision is honoured and explained.
The format gives consideration to those who might be offended, but not a veto.
It affirms and accommodates art's power to provoke, and its right to.
Lots of cultural skirmishes end in shouty hostility or shabby retreat.
Here is a wiser sort of resolution, relying on a mix of principle, reflection and what you might call tact, or good manners.
Besides the hoods, other themes and motifs recur.
Red was the main colour in Guston's palette, bleeding into pink.
He was always influenced by the Italian Renaissance masters, especially their gorgeous visions of the apocalypse and the damned.
Heaven was dull, he noted, but "when they're going to hell the painter really goes to town".
The same is true of him, and of the new show: they draw art from anguish and force you to think.