Alex Katz Penobscot Bay Alex Katz Penobscot Bay
/

Overview

Alex Katz presents his latest collection of paintings: it is always a joy to discover the work of one of the leading figures in the American art world since the end of the Second World War. 

Alex Katz presents his latest collection of paintings: it is always a joy to discover the work of one of the leading figures in the American art world since the end of the Second World War. Last year, his canvases already evoked this special atmosphere of lazy afternoons on a green shoreline. Here, we leave the green holiday sites for the beach. We are at Penobscot Bay but we could, in fact, be anywhere on any coast, such has the beach become the expression of our era - this vast expanse of emptiness that is punctuated by waves and foam. We are in a world of blue. As Balzac wrote, 'This landscape has only three distinct colours, the brilliant yellow of the sand, the azure blue of the sky and the green of the sea, it is great without being wild; it is immense without being a desert; it is monotonous without being tiring; it has only three elements, it...

Alex Katz presents his latest collection of paintings: it is always a joy to discover the work of one of the leading figures in the American art world since the end of the Second World War. 

Last year, his canvases already evoked this special atmosphere of lazy afternoons on a green shoreline. Here, we leave the green holiday sites for the beach. We are at Penobscot Bay but we could, in fact, be anywhere on any coast, such has the beach become the expression of our era - this vast expanse of emptiness that is punctuated by waves and foam. We are in a world of blue. As Balzac wrote, 'This landscape has only three distinct colours, the brilliant yellow of the sand, the azure blue of the sky and the green of the sea, it is great without being wild; it is immense without being a desert; it is monotonous without being tiring; it has only three elements, it is varied' (1)

It is a time for holidays, of familiar scenes invented by our century with their own particular rites and habits. Figures collect shells in "Looking for shells" and "Beach 1", dry off after a swim in "Man with Towels" and stroll along the shoreline in "Green Bandana". These are kinds of primitive scenes for our leisure society where, 'in these brief weeks of eternity when nothing happens apart from ritual, infinitesimal, intimate and repetitive acts as we find ourselves face to face with others' (2) Katz presents a snapshot of us in these unique moments.

This landscape, so recognisable to the modern eye, can easily serve as a familiar backdrop: "Jessica", "Mary Jane", "Lara" and "Tiffany" become contemporary Mona Lisas with the enigmatic features that have long been characteristic of Alex Katz's style. He is both the attentive and remote witness to this seaside world, portraying it as a theatre in which our society unveils and bares itself. The beach is a working drawing and who, other than the artist, could better have understood this ? We are a long way from the scenes painted by Boudin of 19th century Deauville where, between fear and discovery, one sought to tame the deep blue sea. Katz depicts these bathing scenes of today where we experience the contact with the water as some promise of eternity for our now glorified bodies. 

In this reinvented aquatic universe - far from the shores of Antiquity which were seen as the home of sea monsters - woman becomes a new goddess. The triptych of the Bathers - in the vein of the Three Graces - is quite simply a remarkable evocation of this spirit. They emerge from the waves like goddesses of Antiquity with their hieratic profiles. They are the incarnation of this modern idea that sees the beach as a place of display, ritual and eternity. With the stunning light that is so typical of Katz, the artist presents us with a new Olympus

Publications

Alex Katz Penobscot Bay

Alex Katz

Penobscot Bay
2003
    Atmospheric image Atmospheric image
    Atmospheric image Atmospheric image
    Atmospheric image Atmospheric image
    Atmospheric image Atmospheric image
    Atmospheric image Atmospheric image
    Atmospheric image Atmospheric image