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 right now – if you may get over to the Guggenheim within the subsequent few days, it’s a very good present to see. On a aspect be aware – for those who want another excuse to get to the Guggenheim, the concurrent present “Nick Cave: Forothermore” is unbelievable – extra on that present later, because it’s up by way of 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 assume? Katz is at present 95 years previous, and a few of the earliest items within the present embrace some drawings from 1946 and a canvas from 1948, when he was 21 years previous. The total present contains work, oil sketches, collages, prints, and freestanding “cutout” works, that are enjoyable to see, because the folks painted and introduced 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’ll be able to’t see the total cutout on this image, however the double Francescos each are full-bodied and free-standing, supported upright on a metallic 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 pal 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 pals, and mirror a gathering of pals. However one might argue that he has a unusually fascinating and outstanding assortment of pals, as many are vital 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 exceptional, 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 wish to make. I’ve loved seeing Alex Katz’s work reproduced in books and on-line for years, and whereas one might argue that they appear fairly easy in fashion from these reproductions, seeing them in particular person exhibits a lot extra (doesn’t it all the time?). The shadows, the streaks of shade within the hair, these and different particulars may be appreciated a lot extra seeing them in particular person and up shut. And naturally the size – seeing a portray like this that measures roughly 7 x 10 ft, in comparison with small reproductions in books – it’s a very totally different viewing expertise. 7 x 10 ft places it on a scale much like many summary expressionist work, which Katz was very accustomed to, since he was doing his personal work on the similar time these artists had 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 technology 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 be aware on this portray: as I used to be standing there, spending a while observing it and taking within the grand scale up shut, I observed one thing I haven’t seen on a Katz work earlier than, not less than not that I can recall: two little drips of blue paint within the part of hair above the correct collar. They appear to be accidents, as every thing else is so clearly delineated and clear. I’m not a Katz scholar by any stretch, however it was a small element that I discovered fascinating to catch.

In case you’d wish to be taught extra about Alex Katz and this present, check out the Guggenheim’s press release here.