Alex Katz’s homage to Monet at Musée de l’Orangerie

Alex Katz’s homage to Monet at Musée de l’Orangerie

Musee de l’Orangerie, Paris, is hosting “Contemporary counterpoint / Alex Katz. Homage to Monet.” The exhibition showcases the recent works that Alex Katz created as homage to the French Impressionist painter Claude Monet and is on view through September 2, 2019.

Alex Katz, based in New York, is a major figure in contemporary American art. Often, his paintings are poised subtly between abstraction and Pop Art figuration. During summers, Katz works in a rural studio in Maine, beside a pond planted with water lilies. This placid location was the foundation and inspiration for a new series of work for the artist in 2019 — a tribute to Monet’s “Water Lilies,” which he first saw in the Musee de l’Orangerie, circa 1965.

“These are mature canvases; the landscapes of dark water and compositions of colored forms floating on the surface area considered, complex, and astonishingly powerful response to the work of the master of Giverny,” the museum says about this series of work.

“The water lilies are on the pond in Maine and I’ve been looking at them for fifty years but I never touched them because of Monet. But I said you’re going to do it, and I just did it,” Alex Katz said.

Since the early 1950s, Katz has championed what he terms a “modern realist” style of painting, distancing himself from the grandiloquence of American Abstract Expressionism. Although he employs framings and formats developed by filmmakers and advertising photographers, unlike the pop artists of the 1960s, he does not merely recycle the images themselves. His painting has affinities with music, especially the “cool” jazz sounds epitomized by Stan Getz and Miles Davis. The human figure, notably his wife Ada, is a constant presence in his formal games of distancing and stylization.

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Founder: Louise Blouin  


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