Alex Katz 1927 –
Alex Katz: Gathering is a retrospective, at the Guggenheim, of works that Alex Katz has made over the past eight decades. It was being curated during the height of the pandemic, when museums and galleries were closed, and Katz had left New York to paint some landscapes. Alex Katz fans have been keeping our fingers crossed, hoping that this much deserved retrospective would take place and, finally, it is here.
Alex Katz was born and raised in New York. A consummate New Yorker, Katz attended Cooper Union in 1946 and has been living and working in his SoHo home and studio since 1968. In 1949 he studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine and has spent summers in his Maine farmhouse for the past seventy or so years.
His bold portraits and landscapes have made him one of the most unique artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, whose work never fit into the categories that defined art movements of the last eighty years.
Katz recalled, “An older painter gave me some advice:’Figuration is obsolete and color is French.’ I said to myself, “To you, baby.” Actually, I had no idea whether what I was doing was going to find an audience, but my instincts told me there was no other way for me.”
The retrospective includes very early works that Katz did while a student at Cooper Union and his continued works of paintings, prints and sculptures. Visitors to the Guggenheim on November 6th will be able to attend a workshop where they will create their own portraits by experimenting with color, tone and texture, inspired by the works of Alex Katz.
There will also be a performance by the Paul Taylor Dance Company, in the Guggenheim Rotunda, of Polaris, a 1976 collaboration between choreographer Paul Taylor and Alex Katz. Katz and Taylor collaborated on more than a dozen works, with Katz assisting in costume and set design.
Katz has painted dancers and designed sets for theater and dance productions since the late 1950s. The Colby Museum in Maine is celebrating these collaborations with a special exhibit. The Colby has an extensive collection of works by Alex Katz, most donated by the artist himself, inspired by the Maine landscape. Alex Katz: Theater and Dance opened in August and will run through February 19, 2023.
Alex Katz: Gathering at the Guggenheim runs from October 21, 2022 through February 20, 2023.
A.A. Cristi. Paul Taylor Dance Company Presents POLARIS By Alex Katz And Paul Taylor. Broadway World. September 27, 2022.
Julie L. Belcove. Look Inside Artist Alex Katz’s Eccentric Industrial Loft in New York City. Architectural Digest. March 20, 2017.
Murray Whyte. How the Maine coastline shaped the painter Alex Katz. Boston Globe. June 26, 2020.