36 x 25 1/2 in. (91.4 x 64.8 cm)
Medium and Support:
Gift of Lewis Norry and Jill Katz Norry
Location: Not currently on view
Styria Studio, Inc. NYC
Ada and Alex Portfolio
Based on a 1978 painting by Katz.
This is a portrait of the artist's wife, Ada. Like many artists before him, Alex Katz found his wife a convenient model. Having painted her face more than a hundred times, it has become an aesthetic thread woven throughout his body of work. Katz described Ada as "very malleable…a pretty girl cased in different roles." In fact, we see her throughout Katz's career as she gracefully ages from the time of their marriage in 1958 up to the current day.
Despite Katz's assertion that he is interested in divesting his images of meaning, it is hard for the viewer to avoid searching for emotional content in Katz's repeated portraits of himself and his wife. In traditional art making, portraits (and especially those of oneself and one's significant other) are charged with personal connotations. In addition, it is nearly impossible for us as humans to look at a face at such close range without attempting to ascribe to it some emotional content. Our desire to penetrate the surface of these paintings and Katz's insistence on refusing us that privilege creates a tension between our aesthetic and emotional senses. Katz thwarts our expectations and demands that we think differently about what a portrait is and can be.
[Gallery label text, 2005]