28 May 2010 – 29 August 2010 – Albertina
Alex Katz Prints, presented by the Albertina from May 28 to August 29, 2010, offers a major survey of the artist’s printed works. In autumn 2009 Katz donated his complete graphic oeuvre to the Albertina. The exhibition shows a representative selection of it, with works dating from the 1960s to the present. The show comprises about 150 prints, cut-outs (painted or printed aluminum silhouettes), and artist books. Born in New York in 1927, Alex Katz ranks among today’s most important US artists.

Based on the Abstract Expressionist idea of the all-over, Alex Katz pursued an original approach of representational painting before the emergence of Minimalism and Pop Art. Besides the exploration of the classical avant-gardes and commercial art’s formal reductionism, the French Nabis of the early twentieth century, the American realists of the years between World War I and World War II, and, not least, direct portrait and nature studies are to be regarded as the cornerstones of Katz’s art.

Since the exhibition Birth of the Cool (shown in Hamburg and Zurich in 1997) at the latest, Alex Katz has been considered the key figure of a self-reflective US tradition of painting characterized by a unison of rationality, sensuality, and abstraction. Turning them into icons, as it were, the artist renders ostensibly passionless motifs from the New York intellectual scene and art world as well as the well-off leisure-oriented society in monumental formats. Another emphasis lies on the depiction of idyllic landscapes of Maine, in the Northeast of the United States, which radiate both immediacy and an air of aloofness.

Printed works are of crucial importance within Katz’s oeuvre. It is the medium in which he reproduces, reflects, and reduces his motifs in further stages, using mainly ideas from his paintings and cut-outs. The synthesizing effect of his printing techniques – mainly silk-screen printing, aquatint, and lithography – which the artist refines together with outstanding printers contributes to the two-dimensional and artificial appearance of the represented motifs. The printing techniques help maintain the color surfaces shining from their deep that are so typical of his prints. The works’ formal and technical precision as well as their extreme reduction and close-up views ultimately refer the observer to the picture on the wall and to the process of viewing as such.

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