In Dance 5 (2022), Alex Katz returns to a theme and source of inspiration that has informed his portraiture for over 60 years. He began creating sets and costumes for famed choreographer Paul Taylor in the 1960s, which led to a lasting collaboration between them. In tandem with this, Katz developed an original body of work in which he used dancers as models to explore the immediacy of gesture and movement through painting. ‘The gestures interest me, which go right to the heart of dance,’ the artist explains.
In his portraits of dancers, Katz magnifies a sense of motion through his use of radical cropping, creating dynamic compositions that appear as freeze-frames of an ongoing movement. ‘You can only convey real motion when you manipulate it, such as the way Rubens brings motion in his figures,’ says Katz. His characteristic use of cropping is also influenced by the imagery of television and Hollywood cinema, which the artist uses to arresting effect in his paintings.
This work has been selected for inclusion in Alex Katz: Dance and Theater Collaborations at the Colby College Museum of Art, Maine (16 August 2022 – 19 February 2023).