Alex Katz: Flowers

Monday, Nov 11, 2019 – Jan 10, 2020

GRAY Michigan Ave.
875 N. Michigan Ave.
Ste. 3800
Chicago, IL 60611

Richard Gray Gallery is pleased to present Flowers, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Alex Katz. The exhibition will be on view at the gallery’s Michigan Avenue location in Chicago from November 11, 2019 through January 10, 2020.

Widely acclaimed for his graphic portraiture and expansive landscapes, American artist Alex Katz showcases a new body of Iris oil paintings that continue his dedicated interest in the natural environment. This exhibition highlights the artist’s process by showing Katz’s intimately scaled painting studies alongside his larger works. Here, Katz depicts his floral subjects in tightly cropped compositions, deftly distilled down to their fundamental components. Created at the artist’s studio in Maine, the Iris paintings recall his first encounter with painting en plein air in 1949 at the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture. Painting studies are paramount to Katz’s studio practice, as he works from life when drafting them in an effort to capture the fleeting inspirational moment. Only after refining the studies to convey the essence of his subjects does Katz translate the compositions to a larger canvas. This technique, poet and critic John Yau confirms, is “Katz’s way of staying true to the shock of the original perception… His subject is the present tense of seeing, not something recollected in tranquility.”

Within this focused exhibition, Katz’s Irises are depicted in his signature style—flower petals appear as splashes of yellow among broad criss-crossing strokes of blue-green stems, all overlaid on lively backgrounds of pink, orange, or green. Blending formal aspects of abstraction and representation, Katz allows each composition to operate as both an intimate still life and an enveloping landscape that, as author and critic Calvin Tompkins describes, "make us see the world the way he sees it, clear and up close, with all but the most essential details pared away.”

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Image: Alex Katz, Iris 2, 2019, oil on linen.