White Pine 2. 2003. Oil on canvas. Signed on the folded canvas. 183 x 488 cm (72 x 192.1 in).
• One of the most monumental artworks of the artist ever offered on the auction market. • Characterized by uniquely bright colors. • Alex Katz is one of the 100 top artists.
PROVENANCE: Timothy Taylor Gallery, London. Private collection Berlin.
EXHIBITION: Alex Katz Recent Paintings, CAC Malaga/ Spain, March 11 - June 12, 2004 (ex. cat with illu. on pp. 62-63) Alex Katz: West Broadway and spring, Timothy Taylor Gallery- West Bund Art & Design art fair, Shanghai/China, November 7 - 13, 2016.
In 1949 Alex Katz earned his degree from the Cooper Union New York, an art school anchored in the traditions of the Bauhaus and the European avant-garde. The school, however, did not meet Katz’s ambitions to create ever new and fascinating paintings. His college teacher Morris Kantor suggested transferring to the Skowhegan School of Painting in Maine, which Katz would attend beginning in summer of 1949. His training in Maine would be of seminal significance for his further artistic development. Students were encouraged to go outdoors and to paint whatever they saw in order to experience the immediacy of nature and to explore the ambient light. In the early 1950s Katz bought a summer house near Waterville in Maine where he would spent the summer months while living in Manhatten over the winter. He loved working in Maine especially for the unique lighting conditions which served him as a source of inspiration. He perceived the colors in the bustling metropolis New York as a lot more subdued simply because the setting itself was so intensive and overwhelming. Accordingly, the works he made in Maine appear in deep and luscious colors, the abundance of green hues is especially striking. The Maine landscape is characterized by impressive coniferous woodlands, which earned the State of Maine the nickname "The Pine Tree State". The White Pine is a kind of conifer typical of the northeast USA and can reach a height of up to 67 meters. "White Pine 2" is one of the many paintings that came into existence in Alex Katz’s beloved Maine and is a wonderful document of how he combines his imagery with the typical elements of the local landscape. The work can entirely do without any narrative and descriptive elements – he solely focuses on illustrating the moment the very way he perceives it. In order to draw attention to the work’s core message, he reduces the pictorial gestures to a minimum and thus creates a fascinating clean imagery. Another remarkable aspect of this work is the choice of motif: he zooms in on a detail of these gigantic trees while the monumental impression of these giants of nature does not get lost. Katz stretches the fragmentary motif over a canvas size of almost 5 meters in order to preserve the impressive presence. In "White Pine 2" Kart succeeds in conveying the magic of the moment. A vacation day in summer with bright sunshine and a cool sea breeze. Time to unwind by just gazing at the mesmeric motions of the treetops. [SM]