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Alex Katz Presents a Major Work to the Brandhorst Foundation
Alex Katz | City Landscape, 1995, oil on canvas, 305 x 610 cm. Photo: Paul Takeuchi © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010.
MUNICH.- By now it is hard to imagine the Kunstareal without it: the Museum Brandhorst, inaugurated at an official ceremony on 18 May, 2009, takes positive stock of its first year: 345 000 visitors streamed to Munich’s new highlight with its characteristic, brightly-coloured ceramic rods – and the interest shows no signs of letting up.

2 255 guided tours with some 39 300 participants are one more clear confirmation of the extent to which the museum has become an established institution in Munich and beyond. »I’m thrilled at the positive response that the museum has witnessed since its opening«, Klaus Schrenk, Director General of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, said. »The architecture and the collection at the Museum Brandhorst fuse in a way not found anywhere else. The issue of sustainable architecture in a museum context is of interest to visitors and the Cy Twombly rooms, with the major work »Lepanto« and the recent monumental series of the »Roses«. These impressive features render the collection one of international relevance.«

Alex Katz’s gift
The highlight of the museum’s first birthday, however, has been a gift presented by the 83-year-old American artist Alex Katz to the Udo and Anette Brandhorst Foundation: »›City Landscape‹, one of his major works, is a quite exceptional addition to the Udo and Anette Brandhorst Collection«, said Armin Zweite, Director of the Collection and Managing Director of the Udo and Anette Brandhorst Foundation. »By displaying this magnificent painting we will be able to underline Alex Katz’s importance as an artist even more than has been possible to date.«

The number of works by the artist in the Collection has therefore gone up to 16. Due to this acquisition, there are now six landscapes, including such important works as »Dawn« (1995), »3 p.m. November« (1996), »Moonlight« (1997) and » West Palm Beach « (1997). The new atmospheric painting in the Museum Brandhorst is of an impressively large format, as it measures more than three by six metres. The particular significance of this painting within the oeuvre of this artist can be clearly seen. Katz’s position in Germany has only become established over the past 10 years, largely due to two major exhibitions (Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn , 2002, and Museum Kurhaus Kleve, 2009).

On »City Landscape« by Alex Katz
The darkness of night or twilight at dusk are subjects that have attracted the artist since the mid 1980s. This is also the subject of the painting that has now been acquired. »City Landscape« is a surprise, not least of all due to its title – as there is nothing to see in the way of a city with buildings, streets, squares and traffic. Instead, trees without leaves in front of an expansive, undefinable dark area are to be seen in this work executed in a reduced palette of dark blue and black. Vegetation is depicted in the form of sketchy elements including lines and colour fields. An impression of inaccessibility and latent uncertainty is evoked; several bright spots to the left and right further enhance this rather than tone it down. These are neither stars nor lights in a park or other city illuminations.

The artist has basically turned the nocturnal scene into an aesthetic experience devoid of transcendency and sentimentality. The viewer is not looking at the moon and stars that touch on concepts of Romanticism. The subject – that has been conditioned by a long tradition of nocturnal paintings by artists including Caspar David Friedrich, Edvard Munch and J.A. McNeill Whistler and continued to the present day by others such as Luc Tuymans and Peter Doig – is transformed here into pure appearance, but without romantic overtones, so that the viewer cannot empathise with the scene.

The painter Alex Katz
Alex Katz was born in 1927 in New York ( Brooklyn ). His parents, Isaac and Sima, emigrated from Russia to the USA in the early 1920s. His mother trained to be an actress in Odessa ; his father became a successful businessman with a penchant for literature. From 1946 until 1949 Katz attended the Cooper Union College of Art, Architecture and Engineering and, in 1949, went to the Skowhegan School of Painting in Maine for half a year – in other words traditional educational institutions where moderately talented artists were taught in the wake of classical Modernism. In the second half of the 1950s his own distinctive style evolved. The Brandhorst Collection owns two outstanding works from this period that are among the most important early works: »Paul Taylor«(1959), for whose dance company the artist designed a number of stage sets, and »The Black Dress« (1960), in which his wife Ada is shown five times in various poses.

Looking ahead: Picasso’s Books (autumn 2010)
The museum’s first exhibition is devoted to the Picasso’s artist’s books. The Collection holds some more than 110 original editions of books illustrated by Picasso – from a total of circa 150. The books published between 1905 and the artist’s death in 1973 form the most extensive complex of works in the collection, together with works by Andy Warhol and Cy Twombly, and reveal the early interest pursued by the Brandhorsts, who concentrated on classical Modernist painters and their successors from the ’60s. The exhibition will run from 24 November.

Alex Katz | Klaus Schrenk | Armin Zweite | The Brandhorst Foundation |


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