Alex Katz Give Me Tomorrow is moving from Tate St Ives to the Turner Contemporary in Margate, this autumn. Katz, now in his 85th year, is one of the most significant artists of his generation with a far-reaching influence over many of today’s most successful contemporary artists. Katz’s work is also to be exhibited at the Timothy Taylor Gallery in London 5 September – 5 October.
Alex Katz was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1927 and his prolific career spans an incredible six decades. This major new exhibition at Turner Contemporary brings together a selection of Katz’s works from the 1950s to now, including paintings, collages and a 3D cut-out. Katz often works with classical themes of portraiture, landscape, beach scenes and flowers. His paintings are bright, bold, and capture an everyday America of easy living, leisure and recreation.
Katz’s distinctive minimal aesthetic, developed in New York in the 1950s before the emergence of Pop Art and as a reaction to the dominance of Abstract Expressionism, has been refined to a point of poetic harmony. His economy of line and nuanced use of colour speak of a confidence and clarity of vision established over his rich and pioneering career.
These portraits of family and friends, and still lifes of flowers purchased from street vendors near his New York studio, are characteristic of Katz’s apodictic mastery of his medium. These large-scale works are both deeply intimate and also icons of a resolute style.
Painted from life and in single sessions, there is an essential vitality and timelessness to the works. The subjects gaze evenly towards the viewer and simultaneously stand with their backs’ turned – a casual shift of accustomed familiarity. White roses sit against flat fields of white and pale blue, threatening to dissolve in abstracted form and a uniformity of hue – a recurring element in Katz’s stylized images. As the artist has noted of these new works:
“You have to figure out the balance as you go along… I leave out a lot of the description. So we go into no-man’s land. You’re dealing with stuff that’s not descriptive; basically, a lot of it is just instinctive.”
Alex Katz has been the subject of over 200 solo exhibitions including: Alex Katz: Naked Beauty, Kestnergesellschaft Hannover (2011) – the first exhibition to focus on Katz’s nudes; The Albertina, Vienna (2010); The National Portrait Gallery, London (2010) and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1986). He has been exhibited in nearly 500 group shows internationally since 1951.
Throughout his career, Katz has been the recipient of numerous awards and his work is held in over 100 public collections worldwide. Recently, Anthony D’Offay donated a group of works by Katz to the National Galleries of Scotland and Tate, as part of the nationwide Artist’s Rooms project.
To reflect Turner Contemporary’s seaside location, the exhibition places a special emphasis on Katz’s seascapes and beach scenes, as well as images of family holidays and friends, painted in his seaside retreat of Lincolnville, Maine, where he continues to spend his summers.
Victoria Pomery, Director Turner Contemporary says:‘Alex Katz is one of the foremost American artists of the last century, and we are thrilled to have this exhibtion at Turner Contemporary. His work is vibrant, thoughtful and very relevant to our seaside location – I am sure that visitors will love this exhibition and his selection of great location – I am sure that visitors will love this exhibition and his selection of great paintings from the Tate Collection.’
The exhibition has been developed in collaboration with Tate St Ives, where it will Tate St Ives until 23 September 2012.
Turner Contemporary from 6 October 2012 – 13 January 2013