Painting Summer - Alex Katz considered harmful
Post #848 • August 9, 2006, 2:40 PM • 35 Comments
Painting Summer in New England at the Peabody Essex had three of them. With apologies to JL, who liked them, every time I see his work, the awkwardness only ever looks more pedestrian. To me, the great size suggests not painterly heroism, but that they would be more effective as carpets.
Why have Katz when you could have Kuniyoshi instead?
I understand the Modernist impulse to make figures a little dumb and clunky. A particular expressiveness becomes available, such as in the Kuniyoshi, or the requirements of drawing take a back seat so that the artist can work with broad areas of color, such as in the Katz. But the guy who got both of these right most often is Milton Avery.
Maybe not my favorite Avery, but a beaut nonetheless. Imagine the same pose in the hands of Balthus, and how it would have none of this charming innocence and whimsy.