Colby College Museum of Art presents first museum survey of early work by Alex Katz

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Colby College Museum of Art presents first museum survey of early work by Alex Katz
Alex Katz, American (b. 1927), Bather, 1959, oil on linen, 48 x 72 in. (121.92 x 182.88 cm). Paul J. Schupf LL.D. ‘06, Hamilton, N.Y. Lifetime Trust, Gregory O. Koerner Trustee. Art © Alex Katz/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

WATERVILLE, ME.- The early work of artist Alex Katz (b. 1927) is the subject of a major new exhibition at the Colby College Museum of Art, on view from July 11 through October 18, 2015. Brand-New & Terrific: Alex Katz in the 1950s explores the first decade of the artist’s career, a period characterized by fierce experimentation and innovation from which Katz’s signature style emerged. The exhibition is the first museum survey to focus on the artist’s output from this formative decade.

Curated by Diana Tuite, Katz Curator at the Colby Museum, Brand-New & Terrific draws from the Colby Museum’s deep collection of artworks by Alex Katz and will include many rarely seen loans from the artist and other public and private collections.

“The Colby Museum is privileged to serve as a center for the exhibition and study of Alex Katz’s art,” said Sharon Corwin, Colby College Museum of Art director and chief curator. “Katz has such strong roots in Maine, where he started spending his summers in 1949, so we are proud to be able to present the first exhibition dedicated to his early work, much of which was made nearby.”

Installed chronologically in the museum’s 8,000-square-foot Paul J. Schupf Wing for the Works of Alex Katz, Brand-New & Terrific includes more than 60 paintings, collages, and cutouts that trace Katz’s technical and stylistic evolution over the course of the decade.

“We’ve borrowed the title from Alex Katz’s 1961 manifesto ‘Brand-New & Terrific,’ which affirmed his intentions to find the contemporary in the traditional form of painting,” stated exhibition curator Diana Tuite. “What is especially significant about this work is how much it enriches our understanding of the fluid and adaptive exchanges taking place in the 1950s between New York School painters and artists like Katz who were working within a more figurative tradition.”

Born and raised in New York, Katz studied at the Cooper Union in the late 1940s and then attended Maine’s Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1949 and 1950. There, the artist first began to paint from life and found the subjects that he would depict for years to come—the Maine landscape, his circle of friends, and domestic interiors. Within the same period Katz also turned to found photographs as a source for paintings, such as Group Portrait 2 (c. 1950). With faceless sitters and backgrounds reduced to bands of color, he found the essence of composition by paring it down to its most fundamental elements.

By 1954, inspired in part by the cut paper constructions of Henri Matisse, Katz began to make collages from pieces of watercolored paper. Intimate in scale and delicate in construction, these works were often created at the kitchen table of the Lincolnville, Maine, farmhouse where he still spends his summers. Collages such as Wildflowers in Vase (c. 1954-55), a small bouquet of bright flowers, explore the economy of line and form and the proportionality of color.

These early works helped to lay the foundation for Katz’s mature style—the vibrant palette, use of repetition, and the graphic placement of a figure against a solid ground—that emerged toward the end of the decade. In spite of their small size, paintings like Blueberry Field (1955) and Goldenrod (1955) rehearse the immersive experience of nature for which Katz has become so well-known. Katz’s portraits, often full-length depictions of friends and, after 1957, his wife Ada, primarily appear before chromatic backgrounds. In Ada (1959), Katz’s wife is rendered in blue against a brilliant green backdrop. Another example of work from this period is Irving and Lucy (1958), a portrait of art historian Irving Sandler and his wife set into a vigorously painted but neutral colored ground.

In 1959 Katz began to experiment with repetitions of the same figure within a single composition. These so-called “reduplicative portraits” include Ada Ada (1959), a painting with two images of his wife in a blue housecoat with arms crossed, and the equally conceptually sophisticated Double Portrait of Robert Rauschenberg (1959), in which the artist appears twice, almost mirrored across the center of the canvas. Multiplied but not identical, these figures inspire close examination, raising questions about copies and originals, reproduction, and representation. Also created in 1959, Katz’s first cutouts are freestanding or wall-mounted figures liberated from any ground whatsoever.

Today's News

July 13, 2015

Exhibition in Mexico City recreates the iconographic imagery of the Hispanic kings

Flemish masterpieces of the Gerstenmaier Collection on view at the Pinacotheque de Paris

'Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now's the Time' on view at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Colby College Museum of Art presents first museum survey of early work by Alex Katz

Pierre Bergé's library to be offered for sale in Paris on 11 December at the Hôtel Drouot

Bacon, Freud and Hockney on show in a vibrant new exhibition at Walker Art Gallery

Exhibition of 'Degenerate Art' at E & R Cyzer recalls Berlin before the start of the Third Reich

Inaugural SFMOMA Contemporary Vision Award to honor photographer Annie Leibovitz

'From Chagall to Malevich, the Revolution of the Avant-Garde' opens at the Grimaldi Forum Monaco

Exhibition of more than 150 works span 150-year evolution of Coney Island

Exhibition of works by American artist Drew Heitzler on view at Blum & Poe in Los Angeles

Deutsche Bank KunstHalle showcases recent trends in contemporary photography

More than a hundred of the best works from the French contemporary art collection on view in Eindhoven

Philippe Parreno, Carsten Höller and Thomas Demand are inaugural artists at the Center for Openness

Installation of sculptures by Indian outsider artist Nek Chand on display at Pallant House Gallery

Laure Prouvost's first solo exhibition in a French museum on view in Rochechouart

Nationalmuseum Sweden announces acquisition of cabinet and armchairs from the 1925 World's Fair

From Red Army to Afghan jihad museum: A soldier's tale

Dread and domination in Chinese memories of war

First solo show of ceramic artist Melis Buyruk at Pg Art Gallery opens in Istanbul

Building strong regional networks for women leaders in museums, galleries and heritage

First large exhibition of Caio Reisewitz' work in the Netherlands on view at Huis Marseille

Signal Failure: Group exhibition on view at Pace London

Miami's Farley Aguilar named recipient of 2015 Orlando Museum of Art Florida Prize in Contemporary Art

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez
Writer: Ofelia Zurbia Betancourt

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful