Guggenheim to mount Alex Katz retrospective in October

 

Alex Katz, ‘Yellow Tree 1,’ 2020. Oil on linen, 72 by 72in. (182.9 by 182.9cm). Private Collection, Republic of Korea. © 2022 Alex Katz/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery

Alex Katz, ‘Yellow Tree 1,’ 2020. Oil on linen, 72 by 72in. (182.9 by 182.9cm). Private Collection, Republic of Korea. ©2022 Alex Katz/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery

NEW YORK — The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents Alex Katz: Gathering, a career retrospective staged in the city where Katz has lived and worked his entire life, and prepared with the close collaboration of the artist. On view from October 21 through February 20, 2023, the exhibition will fill the museum’s Frank Lloyd Wright rotunda and an adjacent Tower Gallery. Encompassing more than 200 paintings, oil sketches, collages, drawings, prints and freestanding cutout works, the show will open with the artist’s intimate sketches of riders on the New York City subway from his student days in the 1940s and culminate in the rapturous and immersive landscapes that have dominated his output in recent years.

Across eight decades of intense creative production, Alex Katz (American, b. 1927-) has sought to capture visual experience in the present tense. Writing in 1961, Katz noted that “Eternity exists in minutes of absolute awareness. Painting, when successful, seems to be a synthetic reflection of this condition.” Whether evoking a glancing exchange between friends or a shaft of light filtered through trees, he has aimed to create a record of “quick things passing,” compressing the flux of everyday life into a vivid burst of optical perception.

Alex Katz, ‘Departure (Ada),’ 2016. Oil on linen 72 by 144in. (182.9 by 365.8cm). Collection of Marguerite Steed Hoffman. © 2022 Alex Katz/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Courtesy Collection of Marguerite Steed Hoffman

Alex Katz, ‘Departure (Ada),’ 2016. Oil on linen 72 by 144in. (182.9 by 365.8cm). Collection of Marguerite Steed Hoffman. © 2022 Alex Katz/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Courtesy Collection of Marguerite Steed Hoffman

Emerging as an artist in the mid-20th century, Katz forged a mode of figurative painting that fused the energy and distillation of Abstract Expressionist canvases with the American vernaculars of the magazine, billboard and movie screen. He has turned to his direct surroundings in downtown New York City and coastal Maine as his primary subject matter throughout his career, engaging the traditional painterly subjects of portraiture, genre scenes of everyday life and landscape.

Alex Katz, ‘Untitled Cityscape 4,’ 2014. Oil on linen, 84 by 60in. (213.4 by 152.4cm). Collection of the artist. © 2022 Alex Katz/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: © Paul Takeuchi 2022

Alex Katz, ‘Untitled Cityscape 4,’ 2014. Oil on linen, 84 by 60in. (213.4 by 152.4cm). Collection of the artist. © 2022 Alex Katz/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: © Paul Takeuchi 2022

The exhibition’s title, Gathering, references the study of the visible world evoked in the 1951 poem Salute by Katz’s admired friend James Schuyler. Equally, it summons the notion of a lifetime of work assembled within the structure of a retrospective, and the gathering of Katz’s sitters within the uniquely open space of the rotunda. Whether depicting individuals or social groups, Katz’s portraits document an evolving community of poets, artists, dancers, musicians and critics who have animated a downtown avant-garde since the midcentury, including 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, Bill T. Jones and Joan Jonas.

Alex Katz, ‘Ada Ada,’ 1959. Oil on linen, 49 1/2 by 50in. (125.7 by 127cm). Grey Art Gallery, New York University Art Collection, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Golden, 1963. © 2022 Alex Katz/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Alex Katz, ‘Ada Ada,’ 1959. Oil on linen, 49 1/2 by 50in. (125.7 by 127cm). Grey Art Gallery, New York University Art Collection, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Golden, 1963. © 2022 Alex Katz/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York.

A number of portrait subjects recur in the course of the loosely chronological installation, most notably Ada Katz, the accomplished research biologist and Fulbright scholar whom the artist married in 1958 and has depicted more than a thousand times since. Described by the poet Frank O’Hara as “a presence and at the same time a pictorial conceit of style,” Ada functions as the iconographic heart of Katz’s work, a physiognomy and a subjectivity studied across the arc of both the subject’s individual life and the artist’s creative development.

Alex Katz, ‘Crosslight,’ 2019. Oil on linen, 126 by 96in. (320 by 243.8cm). Dallas Museum of Art, TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund. © 2022 Alex Katz/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: © Paul Takeuchi 2022

Alex Katz, ‘Crosslight,’ 2019. Oil on linen, 126 by 96in. (320 by 243.8cm). Dallas Museum of Art, TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund. © 2022 Alex Katz/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: © Paul Takeuchi 2022

Alex Katz: Gathering is organized by Katherine Brinson, Daskalopoulos curator, Contemporary art, with Terra Warren, curatorial assistant, and with additional support from Andrea Zambrano, curatorial assistant.

Visit the website of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and see its dedicated page for Alex Katz: Gathering.