A few works of art have left a lasting impression on me. One is Black Hat 2 by Alex Katz, which I saw in an exhibition at the Albertina. Thanks to their Cool Painting exhibition, the same museum offers more chances to admire the work of this iconic US artist.
- A tribute on Katz turning 95
- Draws on the Albertina’s own (comprehensive) collection of his works
- Prints, paintings, drawings & more
- Runs Feb 4 – May 29, 2023
- See also:
(Alex Katz, Coca-Cola Girl 2, 2019; Silkscreen print in nineteen colors on Saunders Waterford, Hot Press, High White, 425 gsm paper; The ALBERTINA MUSEUM, Vienna | © Bildrecht, Vienna 2023)
In terms of contemporary artists, Alex Katz is pretty much as famous as it gets.
As I write this, for example, Katz has a solo exhibition at New York’s Guggenheim Museum that the Financial Times described as:
…not just scintillating, but consoling too
And Katz has several more exhibitions scheduled for 2023 in LA, Chicago, the Netherlands, Korea and France.
The locations owning copies of his work reflect this status. Think of such prestigious museums as the London’s Tate or New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
(Alex Katz, Black Hat #2, 2010; oil on canvas; ALBERTINA, Wien – Sammlung Batliner | © Bildrecht, Wien, 2023)
Another leading name in the long list of museal owners is, as it happens, Vienna’s Albertina Museum. Indeed, they describe the US artist as one of the cornerstones of their contemporary art archive.
The Albertina actually has the largest Katz collection in Europe with a couple of dozen paintings, numerous drawings, and hundreds of printed graphic works. (Some of which were loaned out for that Guggenheim exhibition.)
Which brings us nicely to Cool Painting, an exhibition allowing the Albertina to commemorate Katz’s recent 95th birthday with a tribute comprised of works from their archives.
The title refers to a style of reserved distance that Katz pioneered in both landscapes and portraits drawn largely from his own social circles.
(Alex Katz, Anna Wintour, 2009; charcoal drawing; ALBERTINA, Wien; press photo © Alex Katz, Bildrecht, Wien 2023)
Works on display include, of course, those same “cool” portraits and landscapes: the ones that tend to appear at the mention of Katz’s name.
But alongside the prints and paintings, you find some pieces that might be less familiar, including portraits in charcoal, subway sketches from the 1940s on sheets seemingly torn off from a notebook, preparatory drawings, and swift-stroked landscapes from the 1950s.
Having now seen more of Katz’s work, Black Hat #2 might just lose its place to new favourites, particularly the Twilight triptychon of woodcuts from 2009/2010 with their dark leaves and subtle sunset colours.
Dates, tickets & tips
Enjoy the birthday tribute to Katz from February 4th to May 29th, 2023. Any entrance ticket from or for the Albertina includes this special exhibition.
This is a good time to be at the Albertina, thanks to some other top spring exhibitions there (follow the links for precise dates, though). For example:
- Dip into the giants of printmaking with an exhibition featuring the likes of Dürer, Rembrandt, Munch, Bruegel, Miro, Toulouse-Latrec, Goya, Matisse, and many others of that ilk (yep, a lot of big names)
- Find more from Bruegel in an exhibition of drawings by him and his contemporaries
- And Picasso gets his own commemorative tribute given the 50th anniversary of his passing
How to get to the Katz exhibition
Simply follow the travel tips on the main Albertina page. The Katz exhibition is on the lower level (turn left once past the ticket check for stairs and the lift).
Address: Albertinaplatz 1, 1010 Vienna