March 11, 1990|By Chuck Twardy, Sentinel Art Critic
Alex Katz would like to advertise that he has not been arresting trends. The trend-makers accept been arresting him.
”Minimalism – I’m advanced of it. Pop art – I’m advanced of it,” said Katz during a contempo buzz interview, speaking in the present close about the past. ”I’m accomplishing actual reductive assignment in the backward ’50s.”
Thus he predated the minimalists’ reductions of band and blush of the 1960s and 1970s. Prefigurings of approaching trends may be begin amid the mostly contempo works in ”Alex Katz: Paintings, Drawings and Cutouts” at the Orlando Museum of Art. The exhibition clearly opens Wednesday but can be apparent today. Organized by the museum’s babysitter of American art, Sue Scott, the appearance includes portraits, landscapes and cityscapes.
If the 63-year-old Katz sounds a little arresting about influences, it’s understandable. He has consistently advised himself advanced of the curve, but he has taken abuse for 35 years for backward abaft it. Painting allegorical works in the aboriginal 1950s, during the heyday of abstruse expressionism, Katz endured maniacs agreeable at aperture receptions, accusing him of regression. Unchanged by abstruse expressionism, pop art and minimalism, Katz has angry out assignment that seems to abandon aspects of anniversary movement – appropriately the anticipation that he was afflicted when, in his admiration at least, he was influencing.
Not that his assignment is after precedent. Critics accept traced his flattening of three-dimensional capacity to Henri Matisse and Fernand Leger, and Katz has accustomed such links. Well-versed in art history, he can draw access with Diego Velazquez and Edouard Manet, as able-bodied as with the modernists.
Among his ancient influences, odd as it may seem, was Jackson Pollock, the abstruse expressionist acclaimed for his dribble paintings of the backward 1940s and aboriginal 1950s.
It was the ”light and openness” in Pollock’s paintings that afflicted the adolescent Katz, who was again ablution his career in New York’s SoHo. Babysitter Richard Marshall, in his article for the archive of Katz’s 1986 attendant at the Whitney Museum of American Art, compared ”Winter Scene,” Katz’s 1951 painting of ablaze artificial through a angle of leafless besom trees, with Pollock’s awe-inspiring ”Blue Poles” of 1953.
In those days, Katz socialized with added adolescent artists at SoHo’s Cedar Tavern, one of the settings for Pollock’s bashed outrages. He said he saw Pollock but did not apperceive him. He has resisted account Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith’s contempo adventures of Pollock because of its reputedly ”over-psychologized” analysis of the artist.
Katz after alone Pollock’s light. ”By the mid-’50s I was alive with collapsed colors,” he said. His brand back again has been apprehensible agreement in planes of those collapsed colors. His access unifies the apropos of realists with those of modernists, who assert on the pre-eminence of anatomy over agreeable and apathy over apocryphal perspective.
Some extremists alone this amalgam as backward as the mid-1970s. He recalled ”people in the arcade screaming, ‘This guy’s incompetent!’ ” at a Paris exhibition from that period. As afresh as 1986, Time analyzer Robert Hughes labeled Katz ”the Norman Rockwell of the intelligentsia.”
”It’s the aforementioned way bodies attending at (Edward) Ruscha,” said Sue Scott of the Orlando Museum of Art. ”Because the artisan chose to simplify, you stop there. If you get above that, you apprehend there’s a lot added activity on there. . . . It can’t be absolved aloof because it’s been simplified.”
”If I took the abrogating things actively I’d accept chock-full painting a continued time ago,” said Katz, who succinctly summed up the objections: ”They’re agitated about the address or the style. The appearance absolutely bothers people.”
Katz seems bedeviled by the angle of style, the characteristic address in which he conveys absoluteness to viewers. What or who is in the painting is not as cogent as the address of rendering. ”The appearance is the content,” said Katz.
If you wonder, then, why accountable amount is all-important at all – why not acrylic abstractions? – Katz will say he wants to get you to see things the way he sees them. And about he sees them big, affectless, bargain to essences, sometimes truncated or circumscribed peculiarly. Katz had appointed the characteristics of billboards – blown-up amount bits sipping Cokes or sucking smokes – continued afore others played with pop images.
And in after decades of art -world about-face Katz ”stayed accurate to his vision,” said Scott.
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