Orange Hat, from the portfolio Alex and Ada: 1960’s to 1980’s,
Source: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA)
The exhibition will begin with a “family room” featuring prints of the artist, his wife Ada, poet and art critic son Vincent, and daughter-in-law Vivien. The centerpiece will be the dramatically cropped image "Ada: Orange Hat" (1990). For more than five decades, Katz’s wife has been his muse, her elegant visage captured in a variety of poses. Throughout the exhibition, in works such as Blue Umbrella (1979-80), Ada assumes many different guises and costumes, evoking the ever-changing fashions and styles of recent decades. An adjoining space will feature portfolio images of Alex and Ada, including Self-Portrait (Passing) (1990) and the life-size, freestanding silkscreened aluminum cutout Ada (1999). Elsewhere in the exhibition, additional images of Ada will be showcased, including Brisk Day (1990), three identical, sequential portraits of her in a red coat printed in woodblock, aquatint, and silkscreen.
Among the highlights of Alex Katz Prints are the artist’s evocative landscapes that capture the quiet majesty of Maine, where the Katzes have summered for decades in Lincolnville. The woods, beaches, and ponds of Maine have provided rich subject matter for Katz since he first visited the state in 1949. Many of the works show his keen interest in the effect of changing light and shadow on a particular setting, such as the early Luna Park I (1965) and Twilight I, II, and III (1978). In addition, Katz’s large painting Poplars (2003), a 2009 gift to the MFA from the Alex Katz Foundation, will be on view as one leaves the Gund Gallery
A native of Brooklyn, NY, Katz was one of the pioneering artists who moved in the late 1960s to Soho. He graduated from The Cooper Union in 1949 and subsequently studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, where he was exposed to painting from nature. Early in his career in the 1950s, Katz began painting numerous portraits, especially of Ada and their friends. By the mid 1960s, Katz made a major commitment to printmaking, producing editions in lithography, etching, silkscreen, woodcut, and linoleum cut. During this time and into the 1970s, he became interested in portraying groups of figures—especially the artists, poets, and critics who occupied his cultural sphere. Katz also produced large-scale billboard murals in Times Square in 1977. Katz’s works have been showcased in countless international exhibitions, and are included in more than 100 museums and collections worldwide.