Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Jill Krementz covers KATZ X KATZ

Ada and Alex Katz photographed by Jill Krementz at the annual ceremonial luncheon and awards ceremony of the American Academy of Arts and Letters on May 20th, 1988.
Comprehensive overview of work by Alex Katz
Drawn from Artist's Personal Collection
On View January 14-March 10, 2013
At Yale School of Art's 32 Edgewood Gallery

At 85 years old, Alex Katz is one of the most ubiquitous American figures in the international art world today.

The son of Russian émigré parents, Alex Katz was born in Brooklyn in 1927. In 1958 he married Ada del Moro, who would become his muse and the subject of many of his paintings. To date, Katz has been the subject of more than 200 solo shows and has been represented in nearly 500 group shows internationally.

An exhibition curated by Robert Storr, the Dean of the Yale School of Art since 2006, hails Katz as "being arguably the freshest and most active of the New York School 'Old Masters.'"
Entrance to the exhibition. Robert Storr, Dean of the Yale School of Art and curator of the exhibition.
Dean Storr describes Katz's loans from his personal collection as the embodiment of "Krème de la Krème Katz," while serving as a master class in unforgettable image-making."

The selection of some 70 works spans Katz's 60-year career as painter, draftsman, and printmaker, including examples of his signature mural-like canvases, as well as oil sketches, working drawings, collages, prints and cutouts.

On the evening of Tuesday, January 15th, Robert Storr hosted a reception for his long-time friend. A chartered bus from New York City transported a New York contingent to New Haven. Those aboard included three Katzs (Alex, Ada, and their son Vincent), as well as Red Grooms and Lysiane Luong, Francesco Clemente, Robert Berlind, Evans Woollen and Yvonne Jacquette, Tom and Elenor Kovachevich, Deborah Kass and Patricia Cronin, Martha Diamond, and Irving and Lucy Sandler. Sitting beside me was Michael Rooks, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Atlanta's High Museum, who is organizing a huge Alex Katz show for 2014.

An exhibition of the work of Francesco Clemente will follow KATZ X KATZ.
At 2:45 a bus arrived at 435 West Broadway to pick us all up for the ride to New Haven. I was the first to arrive because I wanted to get a front seat.
Phong Bui, Francesco Clemente, and Vincent Katz.

Phong Bui is a Vietnam-born American painter, installation artist, independent curator, critic, editor, and publisher of the influential monthly journal Brooklyn Rail.

Artist Francesco Clemente shows at Mary Boone and will be the next artist shown at Yale School of Art's 32 Edgewood Gallery.

A poet, translator, art critic, editor, and curator, Vincent Katz is the author of eleven books of poetry, two books of translation, and his art criticism has been published in numerous books, catalogues, and journals. He is the publisher of the poetry journal Vanitas.
Red Grooms and his wife, Lysiane Luong. The couple have been married for 25 years. Mr. Grooms just celebrated his 75th birthday.
Artists Choichun Leung and Juan Eduardo Gómez.

Ms. Leung, an abstract painter, has exhibited at The Blank Space in Dumbo as well as in galleries in Washington D.C. and Morristown, NJ.

Mr. Gómez, born in Bogota, Colombia, is a painter who studied at the Art Students League. Formerly a full time assistant to Alex Katz, he has had a wonderful year selling his own paintings. "Alex has been a great supporter of my work and through his foundation some of my paintings have been put into museum collections." Gómez has been able to transition into freelancing for his mentor and devote more time to his own accelerating career.

The young man in the grey jacket behind them is Donald Leistman, a painter and Alex's studio assistant.
Jamie Kenyon and Katie Bode are reps from Gavin Brown's enterprise, Alex's gallery. Katz recently parted ways with Pace after a 10-year-long relationship. Artist Martha Diamond and Sanford Schwartz. Ms. Diamond is best known for cityscape abstractions. Mr. Schwartz writes about art for The New York Review of Books.
Elenor Kovachevich and Red Grooms.

Elenor's background is in art education and social services as an art educator. She had a service in NYC, 'Art for Media,' that consulted to the film and TV world providing art for their shoots.
Francesco Clemente, Lysiane Luong, and Phong Bui. It was very cold so everyone was bundled up.
Architect Evans Woollen and artist Yvonne Jacquette.

Ms. Jacquette, an American painter and printmaker known in particular for her depictions of aerial landscapes, is the widow of Rudy Burckhardt.
Reagan Upshaw, the man with the yellow tie, grey beard, and glasses, is an esteemed art critic and and an independent art advisor.

Behind him is John Godfrey and Martha Diamond.

Between, and behind Godfrey and Diamond is Sanford Schwartz (wearing glasses).

On the aisle behind Mr. Schwartz is art critic Irving Sandler.

Standing is artist Tom Kovachevich.
Tom Kovachevich (front and center in the brown jacket) is a well-known artist and a former family physician. In fact, he is still board-certified and in his own words:

"I started my medical career in Chicago in 1970 and attended to patients for 30 years. In the '60s I also started my art practice. I found a way to do both and realized that there was a synergistic aspect to both activities, which I found to be very helpful.

"I moved to NYC in 1983 and took some time off from medicine and limited myself to studio work. Eventually I restarted my medical work and continued studio work. I joined the medical staff of St. Vincent's and opened a private medical practice in Tribeca.

"In keeping with the country doctor in NYC practice, many of our friends were also patients including Red and Lysiane. Attending to one's friends is unusual except in the country side, but I think it was special for all of us and we've all remained friends. I felt that I was a 'country GP' in the center of New York. Now, I no longer see patients and devote my time to the studio."
Christian Breed, an artist from Rome.
Painter Robert Berlind lives and works in Cochecton, New York. His paintings are in many major collections and his most recent shows were at Tibor de Nagy and David Findlay Jr. Fine Art. Both galleries are on Fifth Avenue.

In addition to being a fine painter, Berlind also writes for Art in America, Border Crossings, The Brooklyn Rail, and other publications.
The guest of honor arrives.
Alex and Ada Katz take their seats and we are off to New Haven!
5:00 PM: An anxious artist when we're stuck in traffic in spite of heroic efforts on the part of Nick Evangelista, our driver (and former Marine).
By the time we arrive at Yale it is dark outside. Alex Katz is the first to exit (not counting me who bolted from the front seat opposite his).
Reagan Upshaw.

Upshaw's upcoming book is about the downtown New York cultural scene from 1949-1966. "Alex was intimately involved in almost aspects of the art world -- in addition to being a painter, he designed costumes and sets for the Paul Taylor Dance Company, he did sets for poet Kenneth Koch's play, he did book covers for many of the poets of the New York School, etc. So I'm using him as the 'spine' upon which to hang the book. The working title of my book is The Turbulent Wake and I've been working on it for a couple of years."
Katy Bode, along with the other smokers, all lit up before entering the gallery. Artists Francesco Clemente and Nicole Rittenberg also light up.
John Godfrey and Martha Diamond.

John Godfrey has worked and written in New York's East Village for more than three decades. He retired from nursing in 2011 after nine years as a visiting nurse in pediatric HIV/AIDS and eight years as head nurse of the clinic at Kings County Hospital Center

His most recent collection of poems, his tenth, "Tiny Gold Dress," was published in October.
Yvonne Jacquette outside the 32 Edgewood Gallery. The building was designed by Kieran Timberlake.
Rob Storr greets his guest of honor.
The gallery is already jammed when our busload arrives.

The 70 pieces, all drawn from the personal collection of the artist and some rarely, if ever, exhibited, are organized in a mosaic-like presentation.

The left wall is primarily family: his wife Ada (and her shoes), and several portraits of their son Vincent. That's Vincent with his wife Vivien in 2010, both wearing sunglasses against a yellow background.
Rob Storr standing beneath the entrance to the exhibit and directly under a portrait of himself (center) with David Ross and Irving Sandler painted in 2009.

In fact, Storr is easy to spot as he is dressed in what appears to be the exact same outfit (including eyeglasses) on the wall and in the gallery.
David and Rainer, 1991
Oil on aluminum
The same cutout viewed from the other side.
Lisa and Brooks, 1995
John and Rollins, 1981
Ada's Red Sandals, 1987
The Swimmer, 1974
Study for Swimmer 4, 1973
Vincent (2008) and Ada (2011).
Francesco Clemente looking at Rudy and Edith, 1957.

(That would be Rudy Burckhardt and Edith Schloss, an artist, writer and longtime Rome resident.)
Kynaston, 1963
Portrait of Al Held, 1963

Al Held, a painter now deceased, was a professor at Yale for many years. He and Alex were friends when they lived on 28th Street.
Rudy and Yvonne, 1977

This is a portrait of artists, and then married couple, Rudy Burckhardt and Yvonne Jacquette.
4 P.M. (former Yellow Interior), 1959
Vincent and Anastasia, 1984
Seated Alex, 1953
Oil on board
Self Portrait with Cat
Blue Ink
Top: Bananas, 1955
Watercolor and paper collage

Middle: Beach House, 1959
Watercolor and Paper Collage

Bottom: Untitled, c 1960
June, 1981
Feminist artist Patricia Cronin is famous for designing and pre-installing at Woodlawn Cemetery a full monument featuring herself and her spouse Deborah Kass embracing (above, right).
Twelve Hours (4 panels) 1984, viewed from left to right.
Four Panels viewed from right to left.

You can see Alex Katz in the center of the gallery. Over his head is a painting of critic Edwin Denby completed in 1972.
Phong Bui and Rob Storr. I am told that Phong Bui is rarely without his trademark knit hat. Rob Schorr with Julian Gilbert-Davis, a Yale School of Art faculty member who runs the school's sculpture shop.
Flowers, 2011
Pink Roses 5, 2012 George Ortman, 1958

George Earl Ortman, 86, is an American painter, printmaker, constructionist, and sculptor whose geometric forms dominate his work.
Allen Ginsberg, front and back, 1985.

There is a great exhibition of photographs by Allen Ginsberg currently on view at NYU's Grey Gallery in lower Manhattan that I would highly recommend you to see.
Field of Wildflowers, 1955

Nessia Pope, Artspace's curator with more than 20 years of curatorial experience, describes what she does in these words.

"Often I am asked what a curator does (the word curator comes from the Latin curare, which means 'to take care of' or 'conserve'). Although many curators prefer the word 'organize' to 'curate,' they all do the same thing: They look at art. They talk to artists. They have a vision. A curator of contemporary art identifies changes occurring in artistic production at a moment in time and reveals how these changes enrich the comprehension of aesthetics. More specifically, a curator unites information and creates connections, often through a distinctive point of view and, ideally, with intelligence and creativity. Mostly, a curator tries to pass on to the public the thrill of discovery."
Portrait of Woman, 1946 (pencil)

Susannah Habecke is a Gallery assistant at Yale School of Art's 32 Edgewood Gallery. Her husband is a student at the university.
James Shanley is the husband of Barbara Shanley, Rob Storr's executive associate. "My wife volunteers me," he said.

Mr. Shanley graduated from Yale in 1957 and went on to work for the State Department during the Kennedy and Johnson eras.

"They were good years," he told me.
Francesco Clemente, Gallerist Peter Blum, and Michael Rooks.

Michael Rooks is the curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. The museum owns four Katz paintings and Mr. Rooks will be curating a solo exhibition of the artist's work in 2014.

Rooks has recently co-curated (with MoMA's Jodi Hauptman) an exhibition now on view at the High Museum. Titled "Modern Moments 1913-2013," the show's works are all drawn from MoMA's current collection.
Irving Sandler is is an American art critic and educator. He has provided numerous first hand accounts of American art, particularly around the abstract expressionist circles of the 1950s, where he managed the downtown Tanager Gallery.

Mr. Sandler documented numerous conversations from the Cedar Tavern seeing himself as an impartial observer of this period, as opposed to polemical advocates such as Clement Greenberg or Harold Rosenberg.

In the 1970s he was co-founder of Artists Space, which showed Judy Pfaff, Chuck Close, and helped launch the careers of Barbara Kruger and Cindy Sherman, amongst others.

In addition to writing several monographs of individual artists as well as books (in 2009 he published Abstract Expressionism and the American Experience: a Reevaluation), Sandler has curated many shows. He has written extensively about Katz's work over the years.
And here is Irving Sandler standing under the portrait Trio, which is one-third him.

Sandler was recently quoted in The New York Observer when interviewed at Katz's recent show at Gavin Brown's enterprise on MacDougal Street.

"Look at figurative art today, ask pretty much any figurative artist and they'll owe quite a bit to Alex. And some of the abstract ones too. I can't think of a more influential artist in figurative art today. Can you?"
Officer James Yacono and Sgt. Sabrina Wood. Yacono is a bicycle policeman patrolling the campus on a Cannondale mountain bike.
MFA graduate students at Yale, from left to right: Cathleeen Mooses, Devan Shimoyamam, Genevieve Gaignard, and Stephen Benenson.

With the exception of Ms. Gaignard, who is majoring in photography, the students are painters.
Evans Woollen received both his Bachelor of Arts and his Master of Architecture at Yale.

Louis Kahn was his thesis critic. Woollens designed, most notably, Clowes Hall in Indianapolis, where he practiced for many years.
Ada stands in front of portrait of herself holding Vincent when he was an infant. Detail of Ada and Vincent.
Cassius Clay is a senior art history major at Yale. Mr. Clay is from New Hampshire and studied at Oxford.

The title of the small painting of the woman wearing a scarf is Vivien, 2012. That would be Vivien Bittencourt, who is Vincent's wife and Alex's daughter-in-law.

Bittencourt, who grew up in São Paulo, is a photographer of poets, musicians and writers. She and Vincent have collaborated on numerous films featuring Red Grooms, Rudy Burckhardt, Allen Ginsberg, Kenneth Koch, Kiki Smith, and of course, Alex Katz.
Another photograph of Mr. Clay so you can see the installation.
Endia Beal, Erin Desmond, and Hannah Price are all MFA students at Yale studying photography.

That's Alex Katz in the background on the left. He's smiling because he doesn't see me.
Patricia Cronin and Michael Rooks. Vincent Katz — swimming in the painting behind him on what seems like a warmer day — chatting with Francesco Clemente.
Anoka Faruqee, 40, is the acting Director of the painting and print department at The Yale School of Art. She was born in the States and her parents hail from Bangladesh.

A painter who lives and works in New Haven, Ms. Faruqee has exhibited her work in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and in Asia.

Group and solo exhibitions include Max Protetch and Monya Rowe Galleries (New York), PS 1 Museum (Queens), Albright-Knox Gallery (Buffalo), Angles Gallery (Los Angeles), Chicago Cultural Center (Chicago), Hosfelt Gallery (San Francisco), and June Lee (Seoul, Korea).
Sharon Corwin is the Director of Colby College Museum of Art where she just closed a show of Alex's. "We have a wing of art devoted to Katz containing over 800 of his works in our collection."
Deborah Kass (left) and Patricia Cronin (right), both very well-known Manhattan-based artists are married to each other. Michael Rooks is in the center.

Kass recently had her first retrospective, at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, featuring three decades' worth of her work. Kass's current show at Paul Kasmin features her Yentl paintings.
Painter Robert Berlind, without the beret you saw him wearing on the bus.
Ada in front of Ada Back, 2007.
Ada Katz has been her husband's muse forever.
Katz surveying the scene.
Jordan Casteel, Yale student, is getting her MFA in painting. Pine Reflections 2, 1992
Soho Morning, 1987 Yalie Julia Powers is pursuing her doctorate in Brazilian literature.
Rob Storr chatting with Irving Sandler and his wife Lucy Sandler, a distinguished professor of art history at NYU. She is the author of numerous books, articles, and essays on medieval art and Gothic manuscript illumination.

This may be the first photograph of Mr. Sandler at rest. It is said that he has such unbounded energy covering the gallery scene that many are convinced he's been cloned into five Sandlers.
Jeanne Collins serves as an arts communications consultant for Yale University.
John Godfrey with his self-described "silver hair" in front of his portrait when his was brown.

In this large painting he stands with his right hand on Red Grooms's shoulder. On his other side stands Nathan Kernan, a writer and curator.

"At the time of our sitting in 1984, none of us saw the large scale work as Alex was painting a small masonite study. We sat on three consecutive Saturday afternoons. It was wonderful. Nathan and I listened to Red reminisce and gossip about the early '60s.

"The first time I saw the entire work was at Alex's big show at the Whitney at the end of the '80s."
Red Grooms also in front of himself.

"While Alex was painting this he said, 'I just gave you a twenty-five dollar hairdo.'
I can remember when that was a lot of money."
Sanford Schwartz in front of himself as he appears in large Katz painting.

Mr. Schwartz, collaborating with Alex's son Vincent, is the author of Alex Katz in Maine. He has also written the texts for several of Katz's exhibition catalogues over the years, one on the artist's Small Paintings, 1951-2002, and the other on his Drawings, 1944-1981 exhibited at the Marlorough Gallery in 1982.
Rob Storr thanks Jeanne Collins for all her help. Ms. Collins was heading back to Manhattan on the train. Rob Storr with Ada Katz.
Following the reception, a large group of us walked several blocks to the Union League Cafe for a dinner hosted by Rob Storr.

Sam Messer led the way with his dogs, Early and Jake. Mr. Messer, who teaches in the painting department, is Associate Dean and professor at the Yale School of Art.

His recent show at Gasser Grunert marked the reopening of the Soho Gallery that had been totally flooded by Hurricane Sandy.
The entrance to the Union League Cafe.
Rob Storr welcomes everyone to the dinner. "Thank you Alex," he said, "for letting me raid your larder."
Phong Bui, Nathalie Provosty, and Ada and Alex Katz listening to Rob Storr's toast.

Nathalie Provosty has recently had her first solo show at 1:1, an artist-run exhibition space in NYC.
Alex Katz followed by thanking Rob Storr.

Katz praised Storr for a great show "even if one painting was hung upside down."
This is the painting that was upside down. That's Richard Marshall in the brown suit, who is seemingly on the top.
This is Mr. Marshall at the dinner party who clearly recalls being on the bottom when the painting was done.

Marshall is an independent curator who worked on the Whitney Museum travelling retrospective of Alex Katz in the 1980s.
Nicole Wittenberg, John Godfrey, Martha Diamond, and painter Nabil Nahas. Mr. Nahas, a Yale graduate and close friend of Alex's, shows at Sperone Westwater.
Juan Eduardo Gómez (in foreground) with Andrea Wood and Choichun Leung (in white blouse). Ms. Wood, like Mr. Gómez, is an assistant for Alex in
his studio.
Lysiane Luong designed and fabricated the beautiful necklace she is wearing.
Vincent Katz and Sam Messer, who took his dogs home before joining us. Rob Storr and Irving Sandler.
Dr. Tom Kovachevich and his wife, Elenor. His exhibition last year on the Lower East Side received this rave review in The New York Times by Roberta Smith.

"Since the early 1970s, Dr. Kovachevich, a retired physician, has eschewed Minimalism's preference for heavy metals while often embracing its penchant for repeating, literal-minded 'one thing after another' compositions. But he has never been averse to letting chance mess with the order of things; in this you could say that he splits the difference between John Cage and Donald Judd with unusual evenness.

"This is apparent in Dr. Kovachevich's second Lower East Side gallery show this season. The most imposing works are made of nothing but narrow strips of white tissue-thin packing tape, topped by equal lengths of brightly colored grosgrain ribbon, installed vertically to form large, fragile-looking candy-striped rectangles on the wall. (They are pinned top and bottom but are otherwise loose.)"
Red Grooms used to work with Alex's mother, who owned a sandwich shop on Ann Street in lower Manhattan.

"It was a famous pool hall and also a bookie joint. I was supposed to help her make sandwiches, but we hardly had any business at all because the only people who came in were only interested in gambling or playing pool. Probably just as well, because we were both lousy at putting together sandwiches.

"While I was working there Mrs. Katz came to the attention of a nearby coin collector and dealer and he hired me for messenger work.

"I was living on Delancey Street at the time and had the Delancey Street Museum where I showed my work. Mrs. Katz, who had been an actress, was the only person I ever talked to about my 'happenings.' She later ran a movie theater."
Rob Storr with Courtney Diesla (an entrepreneur whose product is Coffeemaker Fuel) and Sandra Buins (a photographer).

When I thanked Rob for the great evening, he replied: "My job is to raise money and spend it the way we think it should be done. This kind of dinner is what people should do. It's a way to show respect for our artists. I believe in a democracy of people who care about art and this is the way the real art world ought to be."

Mr. Storr, with the help of an anonymous donor, also provided the bus from Manhattan.
Courtney Diesla and Sandra Buins, who are a committed couple. Martin Kersels is Director of Sculpture at Yale School of Art.
Mark Geist, Wayde McIntosh, Mario Moore, and Mark Gibson are among those who helped Rob Storr install the show.
Alex and Ada leaving the Union League Cafe and heading for the bus that is waiting for us outside. Evans Woollen lends his honey bun Yvonne Jacquette a helping arm.
Michael Rooks and artist Nicole Wittenberg. Ms. Wittenberg's first solo show was held at Freight + Volume in the spring.
Bad boys smoking before boarding the bus.

Mr. Rooks was my companionable and interesting seat mate going to New Haven and returning to New York City.
Homeward bound!

All works in the show: Collection of the Artist with the exception of two: 4 P.M. (former Yellow Interior), 1959, which is in the Collection of Vincent Katz, and VIVIEN, 2012 is in the Collection of Vivien Bittencourt.

Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz: all rights reserved. Contact Jill Krementz here.