Los Angeles

Alex Katz

David Stuart Gallery

Alex Katz, at the David Stuart Gallery, is a summary surface painter and easily contented. Entirely derived, he evidently owes his reputation to his talents as an “in”-group portraitist. The flat tone modeling, along with his photographic inspiration he owes to a tradition as old as Manet, and the enlarging of the heads more specifically to Lichtenstein and Rosenquist. The emphasis is on large plain areas of skin tone, briefly modeled around eyes and mouth, under the nose and chin. The handling varies from drawn fill-in to an abruptly planar construction. His merits are his ability to oppose flesh tints with accents in the hair, costume, and background of dark and almost pure color, and to handle surely broad if thin applications of pigment. With those of the late Milton Avery, his pictures share a downbeat attitude. The Bather, Jane Wilson, and Ada in Green Hat are lightweight examples of honestly homely bravura painting. The Marine and Yvonne are more recent, more caricaturish and forceful, and less believable.

Fidel A. Danieli