Peter Blum is pleased to announce the exhibition Alex Katz: Smile opening on January 20th at Peter Blum Chelsea, 526 West 29th Street.
Alex Katz: Smile comprises a cycle of eleven large-scale portraits of smiling women painted in 1993 and 1994. Each of these women—all taken from Katz’ circle of friends and family—are set against a dark monochrome background. Katz strips down his pictorial vocabulary and aims for an economical visual language. These headshot-like portraits create a balance between the immediacy of a photograph (smile!) and the timelessness and austerity associated with traditional portrait painting. While the women seem discrete and self-contained, their frontality and assertiveness optically challenges the viewer. Alex Katz explains this pictorial effect in an interview with Vincent Katz:
"The optical element is the most important thing to me. That the paintings actually have to do with seeing. It has to do not with what it means but how it appears… People think realism is details. But realism has to do with an all-over light and having every surface appear distinctive.”
This is the first exhibition of Alex Katz’ Smile cycle in the United States.