Alex Katz: Small Paintings

Boca Raton Museum of Art

The Boca Raton Museum of Art presents Alex Katz: Small Paintings featuring works by the renowned American artist created between 1990 and 2015. The exhibition of these rarely-seen small paintings is juxtaposed with the artist’s iconic large works, offering a glimpse into the full range of Katz’s oeuvre. Organized by the Boca Raton Museum of Art in collaboration with the artist, the exhibition opens November 7, 2017 and continues on view through April 8, 2018.

For more than 60 years, Alex Katz has produced small paintings. These preparatory sketches or studies – while autonomous in their own right – serve as a starting point for his larger works, for which the artist is universally known. Katz’s small works present an alternative perspective to his larger paintings, and reveal a side to his process that is highly gestural and more instinctive. The details in the brush strokes on an intimate scale invite the viewer to establish a closer physical and spatial relationship to the work. The small paintings were crucial in the early stages of Katz’s career as he developed and refined his style, and have remained a part of his vigorous practice for decades.

As noted by Katz scholar David Cohen, “The small pictures tend to be more painterly, with greater evidence of the brush and the hand behind it. And ultimately, in a way, of the eye behind the hand, too, because if big represents synthesis and resolution, small intimates the perceptual, the initial rapport with the observed world.”   The small paintings, which Cohen calls “comparatively quick, impatient and impressionistic,” are in and of themselves masterful works of art.

Alex Katz: Small Paintings is made possible by the Museum’s Leadership Fund with major support generously provided by the Estate of Ardele L. Garrod, the Isadore & Kelly Friedman Foundation, Jody H. & Martin Grass, Christine & Peter Raimondi, Dalia & Duane Stiller, and Patricia Savides. Additional support is provided in part by the City of Boca Raton; the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, funded by the Tourist Development Council, and Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners; the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

About the Artist

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1927, Katz studied painting at the Cooper Union School of Art from 1946 to 1949. He has developed an original realist style of painting, having begun his career at the end of the 1950s, and coming into his own as an artist at the peak of the Abstract Expressionism movement. Katz’s signature mode of painting can be characterized by recognizable, often-repeated motifs—his subjects elegantly summarized in minima, yet distinct detail, in a form of stylized abstraction.

Alex Katz has been the subject of numerous retrospectives and solo exhibitions over the course of his stellar career, which has extended nearly 70 years. His works are included in the permanent collections of over one hundred museums, including, in New York, at the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Art Institute of Chicago; The Tate, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; el Museum Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tokyo; and Berlin’s Nationalgalerie.  Katz lives and works in New York City.