Los Angeles

Alex Katz

Michael Kohn Gallery

These seven big oil paintings––of flat simplified faces or figures set against pale monochromatic backgrounds that evaporate quickly into nonexistence––are typical of Alex Katz’s figurative work. The inhabitants of his barless, habitatless human zoo are a select group of elegant men and women, upon whom a neutral observer––the painter, Mr. Distanced Narrator––casts his practiced, democratic gaze. Subjects glance back out of the paintings with equal neutrality. Though these obedient subjects might recognize their likenesses on canvas, they would find themselves looking fairly generic, as though their individuality had been sandpapered. Katz paints languid, well-dressed, blandly attractive but not ravishing persons. Gorgeousness would be both an extreme and a specific characteristic that could never exist within the limited, becalmed universe of these works. These are not portraits conveying

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