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Contemporary counterpoint 3. Alex Katz, Homage to Monet

May 15 – 2 September 2019

The paintings of Alex Katz – a major figure in contemporary American art – are subtly poised between abstraction and Pop Art figuration. Since the early 1950s, he has championed what he terms a “modern realist” style of painting, distancing himself from the grandiloquence of American Abstract Expressionism, while admiring Jackson Pollock’s freedom, power and energy. Although he employs framings and formats developed by filmmakers and advertising photographers, unlike the pop artists of the 1960s he does not merely recycle the images themselves. His painting has affinities with music, especially the "cool" jazz sounds epitomised by Stan Getz and Miles Davis. The human figure, notably his wife Ada, is a constant presence in his formal games of distancing and stylisation.
This New York-based artist works in his rural studio in Maine during the summer, beside a pond planted with water lilies. In 2009, this motif inspired a series of paintings paying tribute to Monet’s Water Lilies, which he first saw in the Musée de l’Orangerie circa 1965. These are mature canvases; the landscapes of dark water and compositions of coloured forms floating on the surface are a considered, complex, and astonishingly powerful response to the work of the master of Giverny: "The water lilies are on the pond in Maine and I’ve been looking at them for fifty years but I never touched them because of Monet. But I said you’re going to do it, and I just did it."

With the generous support of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London · Paris · Salzburg


Alex Katz, Homage to Monet 5, 2009. Oil on canvas, 182,9 x 365,8 cm. © Alex Katz, 2019. Photo: Paul Takeuchi, Adagp, Paris, 2019

Alex Katz, musée de l'Orangerie, mai 2019.