June 1 – September 11, 2016
Serpentine Galleries, London
The Serpentine presents the work of renowned American painter Alex Katz (b. 1927, Brooklyn, New York). This exhibition will bring together Katz’s extraordinarily productive output of recent years alongside works from across his career in an installation that responds and relates to the unique context of the Serpentine Gallery.
Coming of age as an artist in 1950s New York, Katz developed his unique approach to contemporary representational painting during the height of Abstract Expressionism.
Over the five and a half decades since his first exhibition in 1954, Katz has produced a celebrated body of work, including paintings, drawings, sculpture and prints. Establishing himself as a pre-eminent painter of modern life, he was influenced by films, billboard advertising, music, poetry and his close circle of friends and family. His portraits and landscapes are characterised by their flatness of colour and fluidity of line, reinventing both genres within the context of abstract painting and contemporary image-making.
The Serpentine exhibition takes landscape as its focus, bringing together Katz’s extraordinarily productive output of recent years alongside select works from the past two decades. Katz’s landscape paintings exemplify his life-long quest to capture the present tense in paint. Regardless of their scale, Katz describes these paintings as ‘environmental’ in the way in which they envelop the viewer. Defined by temporal qualities of light, times of the day and the changing of the seasons, these paintings respond and relate to the unique context of the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens. The exhibition will also include a recent series of portraits and expand beyond the walls of the gallery into the park with a new cut-out sculpture.
Katz draws parallels between his approach to painting and his interest in poetry, both equally concerned with stripping away unnecessary detail to leave only the essential information. This relationship between language and the painting process is echoed in the work of painter, poet and filmmaker Etel Adnan, showing in parallel at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, whose landscapes are similarly defined by their bold colour and simplified form that is nevertheless rooted in keen observation of the world around her.