Alex Katz: 70s / 80s / 90s at Timothy Taylor Gallery
The representation of American life has, over the past century, seen many forms – perhaps most famously defined under the pop art movement. The iconic flatness of colour and form and the economy of line in such representations were influenced by the definitive language of Katz’s paintings.
Alex Katz (1927-) is an American painter, sculptor and printmaker born in Brooklyn, New York. During his mid-20s he studied in New York and in Skowhegan, ME; the contradictory influences of these two locations are manifested in his works. For instance, in the free-standing cut-out figure works in Black Stockings 1987, which feature six New Yorker catwalk madams who, across the Timothy Taylor Gallery room, cast furtive glances at a large landscape piece where two still images of nature suggest curtains behind which a woman’s face hides.
The name of the exhibition, 70s / 80s / 90s, implies to the visitor a whistle-stop tour of Katz’s late-20th century career. Indeed, the lack of cohesion to the exhibition makes sense only in the context of an exploration into the variety and development of Katz’s artistic career. How else to explain a show that, against the dozen-odd walls of the upstairs Timothy Taylor rooms, purports to explore 30 years of Katz’s works? It is therefore quickly apparent to the visitor previously unacquainted with Katz that here is an artist of profound talent and considerable breadth.
Variety and renewal of style permeate the exhibition: from the aluminium cut-outs juxtaposed against large-scale paintings, to the contrast between humanistic and naturalistic imagery. For example, the double portrait of Katz’s wife (also his artistic muse) Ada in Ada Ada 1991 is spatially situated opposite the naturalistic Three Cows 1981; in between these two pieces stand the catwalk cut-outs. The arrangement of the exhibition therefore adds to the sense of a varied style of painting and sculpture, leaving the visitor with a feeling of only touching the surface and, ultimately, wanting more.
70s / 80s / 90s is Katz’s sixth solo exhibition to be held at the Timothy Taylor Gallery, and he has been the subject of over 200 solo shows in total, most recently Give Me Tomorrow at Tate St Ives, and Turner Contemporary (2012). Some of his works will appear at Tate Modern as part of Artist Rooms from May 2014.
Photos: Erol Birsen
Alex Katz: 70s / 80s / 90s is at Timothy Taylor Gallery from 19th March until 17th April 2014. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.
For further information about Alex Katz visit his website here.