Alex Katz

September 18 – November 15, 2003
at Peter Blum SoHo

Peter Blum is pleased to announce the exhibition, Alex Katz: Cartoons, from
September 18th to November 15th,  2003 at the Peter Blum Gallery, 99 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10012.

The title "Cartoons" refers to the group of approximately 24 full size preparatory drawings in this exhibition. Made as studies for large scale paintings, they are executed using the traditional technique originally developed for tapestries or large wall paintings. With this technique the outline of the design is laid down on heavy paper and then riddled with holes so that when powdered burnt sienna pigment is dusted over the drawing a trace is left on the canvas surface which is laid beneath.  Katz's studio practice is traditional in the sense that it proceeds from life sketches to full-scale cartoons, to carefully working out the compositions by laying out the cartoons onto the larger surface of the canvas.

In the book Alex Katz A Retrospective, Irving Sandler describes Katz's process thus:

"Next, Katz invited his subjects individually to model for him. His aim at this stage was to define the pose and gesture of each sitter and the light. He would enlarge some of the sketches into full-scale cartoons, lay them out on canvas, decide the composition, and transfer them onto canvas by pricking holes in the paper along the contours of the image and dusting burnt sienna dry pigment
over it. He then mixed the oil pigments he was going to use."

This is the first time an exhibition has been exclusively devoted to the original cartoons of Alex Katz.  The drawings have been mounted and they are installed without the interference of glass.  The subject matter ranges from iconic portraits of Ada to figurative groupings, beach scenes and scattered flowers.  Some of the studies are details of large scale works (in this case one painting could have required several cartoons, squared off in strips, to complete one piece) other cartoons represent the complete painting.