Alex Katz: Autumn is the artist’s tenth solo exhibition at GRAY and the first exhibition of large-scale landscapes since 2018. The exhibition follows his lauded career retrospective, Gathering, which opened at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in the fall of 2022.
As Guggenheim curator Katherine Brinson described:
[One] might be surprised by the unbound rapture of the landscape paintings that have consumed much of the artist’s still-considerable energy in recent years. But [these works] are in fact the culmination of a lifelong artistic project that aspires to compress everything into ‘a single burst of energy… to paint it wide open.’
Alex Katz has painted figures and landscapes in equal measure throughout his career. Expressed at great scale and in vivid color, the paintings exhibited in Autumn present enveloping compositions measuring as wide as fourteen feet.
I started to think about the environmental landscapes [as] being really an environment that wraps around you,
as Katz notes,
There is no narrative. You’re dealing with perception.
Across eleven monumental canvases, Katz depicts the vibrant foliage, sweeping fields, and windblown trees of the changing season. Created between 2022 and 2023, Katz’s Autumn series relies on a bright fall palette, while other paintings in the exhibition, from the related series Field’s End and Tree Top, present quieter responses to the landscape in muted greens, yellows, and grays. The paintings are exhibited alongside a series of sixteen new portraits on paper. Each drawing possesses an economy of line and is titled after its sitter – Vivien, Niki, Levi, Isaac, Vincent, and others– in reference to the friends, family members, poets, dancers, and artists most central to the artist’s life.
Alex Katz: Autumn, September 9th – October 28th, 2023, GRAY Chicago, Public reception Friday, September 8th, from 5-7 PM CT
The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring a new poem by Vincent Katz. To accompany the exhibition, GRAY will release of Alex Katz: Autumn. The book will feature a poem by Vincent Katz and 27 color illustrations of the works on view in the exhibition.
About the artist
Alex Katz (American, b.1927) is one of the most recognized and widely exhibited artists of his generation. Coming of age between Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, Katz began exhibiting his work in 1954, and since that time he has produced a celebrated body of work that includes paintings, drawings, sculpture, and prints. His earliest work took inspiration from various aspects of mid-century American culture and society, including television, film, and advertising, and over the past five and a half decades he has established himself as a preeminent painter of modern life, whose distinctive portraits and lyrical landscapes bear a flattened surface and consistent economy of line. Utilizing characteristically wide brushstrokes, large swathes of color, and refined compositions, Katz created what art historian Robert Storr called “a new and distinctive type of realism in American art which combines aspects of both abstraction and representation.” Since the 1950s, Alex Katz’s work has been the subject of more than 200 solo exhibitions and nearly 500 group exhibitions around the world, including a career retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York (2022-2023). His work can be found in nearly 100 public collections worldwide, including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Tate Gallery, London; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among many others.