Art January 2023
On “Alex Katz: Theater and Dance” at the Colby Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine.
On its face, the premise of “Alex Katz: Theater and Dance” sounds unpromising. The stiffness of the artist’s painted figures is a key component of his style and has been since he arrived upon it seven decades ago. (He is in his mid-nineties and still painting.) How might he handle dance, of all things?
The answer depends on whether you accept the validity of Katz’s creative project. If so, then you agree that Katz has kept the Color Field movement alive all these years in his outsize canvases and their single-hue backgrounds. The flattening of the figures arises from a formal need to integrate them with the grounds. Cropping them oddly, as Katz often does, pushes that integration further. It stops the surrounding color from operating as space or atmosphere and prevents it from having any identity except that of a wall of paint, true to the Color Field ethos. His...
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