The American painter Alex Katz (b. 1927 in Brooklyn, lives in New York) will be showing a series of life paintings covering the period from 1980s to the present day, juxtaposed with selected city views of New York in his show at the kestnergesellschaft
. In this way, two extremes coincide in the exhibition »naked beauty«: the human body and architecture stand side by side and tell the story of the capacity of Katzs painting to transform subjective impressions into universal symbols.
Until now, Alex Katzs life studies have never been gathered together in such a concentration and profusion within the framework of one exhibition. With his characteristically focused works replete with crisp lines and surfaces, the painter explores the relationship between the figure and the paintings ground, creating singularly beautiful paintings that are also universally symbolic at the same time, thereby facilitating an interplay of proximity to and cool distance from the motifs. The city views of New York shown in tandem with the life studies are drawn from interesting situations and forms of everyday life, which, alongside the direct encounter with the life model, represent the material for his paintings. By means of the juxtaposition of life painting and urban landscape, the kestnergesellschaft is initiating a discussion on the essence of Alex Katzs painterly enquiries: the translation of fleeting moments of perception in form and surface, the creation of perfect, cool planes of colour using the traditional means of painting. Alex Katz succeeds in capturing the specificity of a situation or a person in his compositions and thereby simultaneously creating an ideal type of representation. Katz paints with manifest ease and his paintings manage to generate their effect ranging between the impression of concrete snapshots and the creation of universal symbols.
Numbered among the most important contemporary American painters, Alex Katz became famous above all on account of his larger than life-sized portraits. Katz developed his characteristic style comprising clear lines and planes of colour during the 1950s in bold contrast at that time to the predominance of Abstract Impressionism. He developed a completely individual visual language with his constant flattening out of different pictorial elements, a language which to this day influences contemporary figurative painting and which pre-empted Pop Art of the 1960s.
In 1986, The New York Whitney Museum of American Art dedicated the first retrospective to Alex Katz, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art followed suit in 1988 with a retrospective exhibition of his prints. In Germany comprehensive solo exhibitions were afforded the artist among others by the Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (1995) and the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg (2003). The Albertina (Vienna) presented an extensive show featuring his graphic works in 2004. Alex Katzs works are to be found in over 100 public collections across the globe, above all in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin and the Tate Gallery, London.