Alex Katz at the Guggenheim in New York,NY

Alex Katz: Gathering, a retrospective at the Guggenheim, is the first retrospective of his work since the Whitney’s in 1986.

I have always liked Alex Katz. I love his devotion to his wife Ada, who he has painted well over 200 times. At 95 Katz is still painting.

I was up for a few hours in the middle of the night before I went to the exhibition and read everything I could find on line. I liked this New Yorker article from 2018. Here is an ARTnews review for you to read, and this is Roberta Smith’s from The New York Times. I wholeheartedly agree with Smith’s review.

I’m sharing my favorite paintings from the exhibition’s 154 works on display.

“Staged in the city where Katz has lived and worked his entire life, and prepared with the close collaboration of the artist, this retrospective will fill the museum’s Frank Lloyd Wright rotunda. Encompassing paintings, oil sketches, collages, drawings, prints, and freestanding “cutout” works, the exhibition will begin with the artist’s intimate sketches of riders on the New York City subway from the late 1940s and will culminate in the rapturous, immersive landscapes that have dominated his output in recent years.” (Guggenheim)

Blue Umbrella 2, 1972
Oil on linen

“Emerging as an artist in the mid-20th century, Katz forged a mode of figurative painting that fused the energy of Abstract Expressionist canvases with the American vernaculars of the magazine, billboard, and movie screen. Throughout his practice, he has turned to his surroundings in downtown New York City and coastal Maine as his primary subject matter, documenting an evolving community of poets, artists, critics, dancers, and filmmakers who have animated the cultural avant-garde from the postwar period to the present.” (Guggenheim)

Three Figures on a Subway, ca. 1948
Oil on board
Ada in Black Sweater, 1957
Oil on board
Ada Ada, 1959
Oil on linen
Oval Ada, 1958
Oil on board
The Black Dress, 1960
Oil on linen
The Red Smile, 1963
Oil on linen
Upside Down Ada, 1965
Oil on linen
The Cocktail Party, 1965
Oil on linen
Mr. and Mrs. R. Padgett, Mr. and Mrs. D. Gallup, 1971
Oil on linen
Round Hill, 1977
Oil on linen
Ada Ada 1991
Oil on linen
Ada, 2009
Oil on linen

When I was at the Guggenheim, I kept thinking of how my sister-in-law Dorothy is not a Katz fan. She also doesn’t like Viola Frey, who is one of my top favorite artists. Katz and Frey bring me so much joy. I guess everyone has to have a flaw or two.

The exhibition runs through February 20, 2023.

Leave a Reply