Painted in 1974, four years after he officially abandoned abstract expressionism for figuration, 'The Oracle' contains Guston's usual motifs, drawn with red and black paint into a muddled pink ground: a head, featureless except for a Cycloptic eye, hooded Ku Klux Klan heads, a pile of shoes, and a lone light bulb hanging limply from the top edge of the canvas. Formed only by red or black contours, the shapes jump beyond the plane of the canvas, while the blurred pink brushstrokes recede behind. The imagery revolves around Guston's obsession with evil—historical, personal, and current. The one-eyed head looks forward—the "oracle," perhaps—but not at the objects, loaded with violent history, jumbled around it. The shoes reflect images of tattered shoes confiscated from Jews during the Holocaust, from which Guston's Ukrainian parents escaped to America. The Klan hoods signify the evil Guston experienced as a Jew, as well as the general racial hatred and injustice still occurring in 1974, when the Civil Rights movement still felt fresh. The unlit light bulb, hanging above the one-eyed head, is often linked to his father's suicide by hanging, and suggests an absence of knowledge or enlightenment from what lies ahead. The war in Vietnam informed the overall carnage present in the fleshy red paint and unapologetic crudeness of his rendering. All of these elements pervaded Guston's mind, and he found himself unable to create insular abstract work as he once did.