McClain Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Alex Katz: Flowers, featuring a selection of floral paintings and a full set of prints from the artist’s recent Flowers Portfolio published in 2021.
Alex Katz is widely recognized as one of the most important American painters from the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He had his first solo exhibition in 1954, after attending the now legendary Cooper Union Art School in Manhattan in the 1940s. Last year the Guggenheim Museum in New York City mounted a major retrospective titled Gathering spanning eight decades of artistic production. Katz’s oeuvre circles ideas of intimacy by revisiting domestic subjects, including family, friends, home, and temporality. His iconic portraits include a large trove of his wife, Ada, whom he has been painting since they married. His vibrant palette and scenic, stage-like cutouts anticipated the arrival of pop art, and his loose and effortlessly gestural figuration is instantly recognizable.
Katz began painting flowers in earnest at the turn of the 21st century. The floral works are characterized by their bold, vibrant colors and simplified forms. Continuing his use of large, flat fields of color as the backgrounds of his compositions, the artist turns his attention onto flora in the same manner he spends time with his human subjects. He focuses on the flowers’ morphology, flattening the complexity of the plant in favor of picking up its allure and personality. The finished works exude elegance, harmony, and balance. In his 1968 painting Pink Petunia, a tightly cropped single pink flower opens against a haze of green shadows, leaves, and stems. The extreme zoom of the layout allows the viewer to hone in on the beauty of the flower itself, rather than being distracted by extraneous details.
The Flowers Portfolio was published by Lococo Fine Art in 2021. Founded in 1990 by Robert Lococo, the publisher sees their work in printmaking as a way to facilitate the translation of the artist’s creative process through to its natural expansion into the print medium. Their sensitive exploration of different techniques and innovative technology has ensured long working relationships with many great artists, including Alex Katz. Lococo has published several catalogs and monographs on the artist, helping establish a strong and competitive market for Katz’s prints.
ALEX KATZ (b. Brooklyn, New York, 1927) began attending The Cooper Union Art School in Manhattan in 1946. Upon graduating in 1949, Katz was awarded a scholarship for summer study at the Skowhegan School for Painting and Sculpture in Maine, a grant that he would renew the following summer. Katz explains that Skowhegan’s plein air painting program gave him “a reason to devote my life to painting.” In the early 1960s, influenced by films, television, and billboard advertising, Katz began painting large-scale paintings, often with dramatically cropped faces. In 1965, he also embarked on a prolific career in printmaking. Katz would go on to produce many editions in lithography, etching, silkscreen, woodcut, and linoleum cut.
Alex Katz's work has been the subject of more than 250 solo exhibitions and nearly 500 group exhibitions internationally since 1951.These exhibitions include: the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1986); Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York (1988); Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden (1995); Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno, Valencia (1996); P.S. 1/Institute for Contemporary Art, New York (1997-1998); the Saatchi Gallery, London (1998); Kunst und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn (2002); The Jewish Museum, New York (2006); National Portrait Gallery, London (2010); the Albertina, Vienna (2010); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2012); Tate St. Ives (2012); Guggenheim Bilbao (2015); Serpentine Gallery, London (2016); The Cleveland Museum of Art (2017); Lotte Museum of Art, Seoul (2018); Tate Liverpool (2018); Museum Brandhorst, Munich (2018); Musée de L'Orangerie, Paris (2019); Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (2019); Fosun Foundation, Shanghai (2020); Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid (2022); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (2022), New York; and the Albertina, Vienna (2023).
Katz has received numerous accolades throughout his career. Among them, Katz was inducted by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1988. In 1978, Katz received the U.S. Government grant to participate in an educational and cultural exchange with the USSR. Katz was awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship for Painting in 1972.
Works by Alex Katz can be found in over 100 public collections worldwide. Most notably, those in America include: Albright-Knox Museum, Buffalo; The Art Institute of Chicago; The Brooklyn Museum; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Colby Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine; Des Moines Art Center; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; The Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Milwaukee Art Museum; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.; National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford; and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Additionally, Katz’s work can be found in the Albertina (Austria), Museum Moderne Kunst (Austria), the Ateneum Taidemuso (Finland), the Sara Hildén Art Museum (Finland), Museum Brandhorst (Germany), the Bayerische Museum (Germany), Fondation Louis Vuitton (France), Israel Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Japan), Berardo Collection (Portugal), the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (Spain), IVAM Centre Julio Gonzalez (Spain), the Nationalgalerie (Germany), Tate Gallery (England), and the Thyssen-Bornemisza, (Spain), among others.