Gathering on the Guggenheim – The Artsology Weblog

Alex Katz Guggenheim exhibition
View of the Alex Katz: Gathering exhibition on the Guggenheim Museum in NYC.

Regardless of opening final October, I simply acquired round to seeing the Alex Katz retrospective titled “Alex Katz: Gathering” on the Guggenheim final week. The present closes on February twentieth, so I wished to place this on the market at the moment – if you may get over to the Guggenheim within the subsequent few days, it’s a superb present to see. On a aspect word – if you happen to want one more reason to get to the Guggenheim, the concurrent present “Nick Cave: Forothermore” is incredible – extra on that present later, because it’s up via April tenth.

However again to Alex Katz, the time period “retrospective” is completely utilized right here, because the present covers eight many years of labor. That’s fairly wonderful, don’t you suppose? Katz is presently 95 years outdated, and among the earliest items within the present embody some drawings from 1946 and a canvas from 1948, when he was 21 years outdated. The total present contains work, oil sketches, collages, prints, and freestanding “cutout” works, that are enjoyable to see, because the individuals painted and offered as cutouts are roughly life-sized. Talking of which, I’ve included an set up shot beneath which options the portray “Muna” at left, and a double-portrait cutout titled “Francesco” at proper, which depicts the Italian artist Francesco Clemente. You may’t see the complete cutout on this image, however the double Francescos each are full-bodied and free-standing, supported upright on a steel base which sits flat on the ground.

Alex Katz painting and cutout at the Guggenheim
“Muna,” 1990 (left), and “Francesco,” 1992 (proper), by Alex Katz on view on the Guggenheim Museum in NYC.

The exhibition title of “Gathering” has a number of meanings: 1, it references the examine of the seen world as described within the 1951 poem “Salute” by James Schuyler, who was a good friend of the artist; 2, it’s the apparent description of this assortment of his life’s work being gathered collectively on the Guggenheim; and three, a lot of the topics in these work are his private associates, and mirror a gathering of associates. However one may argue that he has a unusually attention-grabbing and outstanding assortment of associates, as many are important figures in a twentieth century “who’s who” of poets, artists, dancers, musicians, and critics, together with Frank O’Hara, Robert Rauschenberg, Paul Taylor, LeRoi Jones (later Amiri Baraka), Joe Brainard, Kynaston McShine, Anne Waldman, John Ashbery, Meredith Monk, Allen Ginsberg, Mariko Mori, Invoice T. Jones, and Joan Jonas, amongst others.

One other widespread topic of Alex Katz’s portraits is his spouse Ada, who has appeared in over one thousand work of their 65 years of marriage. That’s simply outstanding, each 65 years of marriage and being the topic of over a thousand work! Beneath is “The Pink Smile,” 1963, and it brings up some factors I’d prefer to make. I’ve loved seeing Alex Katz’s work reproduced in books and on-line for years, and whereas one may argue that they give the impression of being fairly easy in fashion from these reproductions, seeing them in individual exhibits a lot extra (doesn’t it at all times?). The shadows, the streaks of shade within the hair, these and different particulars might be appreciated a lot extra seeing them in individual and up shut. And naturally the dimensions – seeing a portray like this that measures roughly 7 x 10 toes, in comparison with small reproductions in books – it’s a completely totally different viewing expertise. 7 x 10 toes places it on a scale just like many summary expressionist work, which Katz was very acquainted with, since he was doing his personal work on the identical time these artists have been residing and dealing. The critic Carter Ratcliff as soon as wrote: “Appropriating the monumental scale, stark composition and dramatic gentle of the Summary Expressionists, he would beat the heroic era at their very own sport,” and Katz himself added: “It was an open door, nobody was doing representational portray on a big scale” at the moment within the Fifties.

Alex Katz The Red Smile at the Guggenheim
“The Pink Smile,” 1963, by Alex Katz, on view on the Guggenheim Museum.

One little aspect word on this portray: as I used to be standing there, spending a while observing it and taking within the grand scale up shut, I seen one thing I haven’t seen on a Katz work earlier than, no less than not that I can recall: two little drips of blue paint within the part of hair above the proper collar. They appear to be accidents, as all the pieces else is so clearly delineated and clear. I’m not a Katz scholar by any stretch, but it surely was a small element that I discovered attention-grabbing to catch.

If you happen to’d prefer to study extra about Alex Katz and this present, check out the Guggenheim’s press release here.