Monday, March 4, 2013

Surfing: Alex Katz

There are days when I worry about not posting often enough on this blog. For months now I've had a sense of being more silent than before, or more tongue-tied. It's like there's nothing to say ... or, if there is something, I can't find words to say it. How can this be when in a sense I have more to think about than ever before? My head is spinning with new discoveries and new ideas, old thoughts coming together with new thoughts and sparks flying. Maybe it all needs time to settle down. At any rate, I'm thinking for the time being   just to post links of things found around the web that are interesting, to me anyway. Of special interest always are things that artists say about themselves and their work. These are two videos I found this morning of Alex Katz, an artist I like a lot. This is a quote from a Wikipedia article on his process:

In the early 1960s, influenced by films, television, and billboard advertising, Katz began painting large-scale paintings, often with dramatically cropped faces. Ada Katz, whom he married in 1958, has been the subject of numerous portraits throughout his career. To make one of his large works, Katz paints a small oil sketch of a subject on a masonite board; the sitting might take an hour and a half. He then makes a small, detailed drawing in pencil or charcoal, with the subject returning, perhaps, for the artist to make corrections. Katz next blows up the drawing into a "cartoon," sometimes using an overhead projector, and transfers it to an enormous canvas via "pouncing"—a technique used by Renaissance artists, involving powdered pigment pushed through tiny perforations pricked into the cartoon to recreate the composition on the surface to be painted. Katz pre-mixes all his colors and gets his brushes ready. Then he dives in and paints the canvas—12 feet wide by 7 feet high or even larger—in a session of six or seven hours.

The two video interviews:


Susanna Lambeck said...

I saw Katz's paintings in Dublin at the Museum for Modern Art in Kilmainham a few years ago. They are very large indeed. I couldn't personally figure out what made him so popular...snapshot compositions, graphic flattened faces, greying colours...I figured in the end that his art must be one of those phenomena that are about a particular moment in time. I can understand him like that- a man of the seventies, doing seventies-type things...

Mary said...

Hi Susanne, great comment. One of the things I like about Katz is the way he simplifies, something I find difficult to say the least. When I look at any of his portraits it's a distinct personality, yet there's hardly anything there. I've become more and more awed at this aspect, plus the paintings are good to look at (to me). With the videos it's nice to find a straightforward person, no BS. He says his grammar is abstract and I can relate to that too, it's something I've often tried but failed to articulate.
Best wishes

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