“I was in the abstract art world, socially – they all thought I was really stupid. The poets all liked my work – I had some of the smartest people on the planet buying my work. I knew I was OK…
Rather than his fellow artists, Katz looked to poets for inspiration: Frank O’Hara (whose portrait he painted in 1959) and Gertrude Stein… “The language is beautiful. And the ideas are kind of impressive too. The thing with the present tense is the thing that I bought.” This has long been Katz’s ambition – to capture the fleeting moment, although not in what he considers the navel-gazing style of the French philosophers… “Camus – he’s depressed and can’t figure out what to do on a Sunday? I was like, ‘Oh,
[Katz’s] portraits are concerned primarily with surface energy, which he finds as meaningful as works that claim to unearth a “deeper” meaning. “When the dominant characteristic of a painting is called sincerity, that’s a bad sign. Sincere painting means it relies on things outside of the painting. ‘Sincere art’ – as if painting pretty people isn’t. Well, it depends who does it.”
(Emma Brockes, “Alex Katz: ‘The smartest people bought my work,'” The Guardian, 10-29-18)
(c) 2018 JMN.