Alex Katz (b. 1927)
Lot 94 Details
Alex Katz (b. 1927), American
LATE JULY II, 1971 [S. 39]
lithograph in colours on Arches paper, the full sheet
signed and numbered 12/120; published by Brooke Alexander, Inc., New York, blindstamp, printed by The Bank Street Atelier, Ltd., New York
sheet 22 ins x 28.5 ins; 56 cms x 72.4 cms
Private Collection, Toronto, ON
Alex Katz’s great genius lies in his ability to simplify, removing the inessential while never losing either elegance or rigor. His work is spare and unfussy, but never boring. The critic John Russell, in his review of Katz’s 1986 retrospective at the Whitney Museum, wrote that “the paintings look easy, the way Fred Astaire made dancing look easy and Cole Porter made words and music sound easy, but don't let's be fooled. When it comes to the art that conceals art, Katz is right in there with those two great exemplars.”
Printmaking has complemented Katz’s painting practice for decades, and he views his works on paper as extensions of his works on canvas. Katz has spent much of his career thinking deeply about the elusive nature of what makes a great print, explaining that “printmaking is a matter of producing the same image over and over, and the image able to stand up to that treatment isn’t easy to come by.”
Robert Storr, dean of the School of Art at Yale University and curator of the exhibition “Katz X Katz” notes that Katz’s flower paintings date back to the 1950s harkening back to his first encounters working en plein air in 1949 while studying at the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture: “He was painting them full-scale like this from the beginning of his career,” and that Warhol’s large flower portraits actually came after Katz’s.
Katz himself explains that his work seeks to create a record of “quick things passing.” Though often thought of as a portraitist, Katz has long been interested in the landscape and the natural world. Critic Calvin Tomkins explains that Katz “make us see the world the way he sees it, clear and up close, with all but the most essential details pared away.”
We invite you to read more about Alex Katz’s prints on our blog.