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“Brand-New & Terrific: Alex Katz in the 1950s” opens at the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine this summer (July 11–October 18). The exhibition’s curator Diana Tuite chose to highlight artist Alex Katz’s formative years, collecting a paintings that focus on his early work and the development of his iconic style.
“Katz has such strong roots in Maine, where he started spending his summers in 1949, so we are proud to be able to present the first exhibition dedicated to his early work, much of which was made nearby,” said Sharon Corwin, director and chief curator at the museum. From 1949 to 1950 Katz attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, Maine. The landscape of the state inspired many of the paintings of family and friends from that time. Katz experimented with replication, lighting, and flatness in his work. His portraits are cool and non-emotional, but have seductive look that makes them appear effortless and timeless. His paintings purposively do not provide a narrative and portray Katz’s “take it for what it is” mantra. The collection consists of 60 paintings, collages, and cutouts, which put Katz distinctive style mixing bright colors with extreme flatness on display.
The exhibition is named after Katz’s 1961 manifesto the “Brand-New and Terrific,” which illustrates Katz’s search for the contemporary but also the changes in New York during the 1950s. Tuite described the show as shedding light on “Katz’s intentions to find the contemporary in the traditional form of painting.”