ALEX KATZ
Paintings From The 50's - 80's

December 8 - March 10, 2012


Adam Baumgold Gallery presents the exhibition Alex Katz: Paintings from the 50's - 80's, from December 8 - February 25, 2012. The exhibition of fifteen paintings includes major works that were exhibited in Alex Katz's retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1986; at Alex Katz: Small Paintings at the Addison Gallery of American Art, The Whitney Museum, and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in 2001-2002; and at Alex Katz Paints Ada at the Jewish Museum in New York in 2006.

Featured in the exhibition is Alex Katz's seminal painting Bather, 1959. In Bather, Katz's enigmatic, constant muse, his wife Ada, stands front and center in a continuous field of water and sky. Bather, with its shift to a larger scale and its focus on a single figure, marks an important turning point in Katz's development. This succinct painting clearly relates to the artist's early collages, which "suggested to Katz the idea of a figure removed from the surface of a painting and the background."1

Also from 1959 is one of the artist's first cut-outs, Bernard and Helen Langlais. This oil on canvas on wood cut-out is emblematic of the early paintings stylistically - taking the emphasis on silhouette to its logical conclusion. The view of the couple from front and back is a precursor to the painted, aluminum cut-outs that followed.

An early painting in the exhibition, Two Figures, 1954, depicts a color-saturated seaside scene with two merged figures in the center, "displaying a Matisse-inspired flatness, implied motion, and broad, flat color areas defining abstract shapes."2

The large study Eli, 1963 (the larger version of this painting is in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art) marks Katz's move to a more aggressive, close-up format, where faces frequently dominate the composition of his paintings "simultaneously [recalling] billboard advertising in which cropping acts to thrust forms forward dramatically for the sake of visual impact, and Degas's paintings, in which cutoff images suggest 'that a world existed outside of the picture frame."3 In Yellow House, 1982, Katz brings this tension to a landscape. Painterly brushstrokes form a sharply cropped and flattened, verdant hillside in the foreground, and in the background a yellow house is similarly abstracted. Between these strong geometric shapes, Katz has sandwiched a leafy tree.

Katz often arrives at his larger paintings through a series of smaller, painterly studies, which inform the working process for the larger paintings. Among the small-scale paintings in this exhibition are two small studies for Yellow House and two studies for Swimmer. Alex Katz has been a monumental force in American and international art for over 50 years.

1 Richard Marshall, Alex Katz: Whitney Retrospective. 2 Richard Marshall, Alex Katz: Whitney Retrospective. 3. Irving Sandler, Alex Katz: A Retrospective.

 

Samantha, 1985
oil on masonite
15 7/8" x 11 7/8"



 

The Green Cap, 1985
woodblock print, ed. 200
17 ½" x 24"

 


Brisk Day III, 1990
color woodcut, ed. of 150
Sheet 35½" x 28½"

 

 

Swamp Maple II, 1970
color lithograph, ed. of 80.
40 1/2" x 27 1/4"

 

 

Ada Four Times, 1979-80
Lithograph and silkscreen, ed. of 120
30" x 22 1/2"

 

Ada Four Times, 1979-80
Lithograph and silkscreen, ed. of 120
30" x 22 1/2"

 

Ada Four Times, 1979-80
Lithograph and silkscreen, ed. of 120
30" x 22 1/2"

 

Ada Four Times, 1979-80
Lithograph and silkscreen, ed. of 120
30" x 22 1/2"