Peter Blum is pleased to announce the exhibition Alex Katz: Drawings, opening on September 1 at 99 Wooster Street, New York. The gallery will hold a reception for the artist on Wednesday, September 16th from 6 to 8 p.m.
Drawings brings together 26 recent charcoal portraits, including images of Katz’s wife Ada, family and friends, fashion models, and art world figures such as Robert Storr and Irving Sandler. The portraits on view represent what Katz refers to as “finished” drawings. In his catalog essay for the important 1992 drawing retrospective organized by the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Carter Ratcliff described the finished drawings as “paintings in black and white.” It is important to note that these recent drawings were done with charcoal, a medium Katz began to use only around 2006/2007, distinguishing themselves quite clearly from the earlier more academic studies he did in graphite. These works have not been previously shown in New York.
Katz characteristically places his subjects against a plain background and dramatically crops the image, challenging conventions of the traditional frame and bringing the sitter close for a cinematic-like viewpoint, as in Sahn (2008). He commented in a 2007 interview (NewArtTV), “To me appearance is much more interesting than how I feel about something… The emphasis is on the optical. ” Works such as Zoe (2008), where she is shown wearing large hoop earrings, sunglasses, and ponytail, illustrate Katz’s interest in capturing present day fashion and appearance, and bring to mind a modern day Nefertiti, with her long neck, distinct jaw line, and wide head band. In other drawings, Katz emphasizes a moment of movement, as in a three-quarter length view of Vivien (2008) walking, or Christy (2006) shown from behind gently turning back to look over her shoulder. Ultimately, the attempt to capture a sense of the moment, light and appearance connects all of the drawings on view.