In the present work, Lovaas' features are stripped to the bare essentials, her direct stare and coy smile contrasting with her oversized jacket and anonymous red baseball cap. The eye is attracted to elements which cling to the surface: the subtle play of light and shadow within the creases of her jacket, the stark contrast between the predominantly primary colours, the lack of depth which makes the composition surreal and improbable, the sense of the subject’s confidence that emanates from the canvas. Monumental and invitingly impersonal, Katz’s realist style of painting reflects his training in commercial art. By increasing the scale of his works, flattening images, eliminating extraneous detail and sharpening contours, he has created a definitive and idiosyncratic style. The artist remarked, “People say painting is real and abstract. Everything in paint that’s representation is false because it’s not representational, it’s paint. We speak different languages and have different syntax. The way I paint, realistic is out of abstract painting as opposed to abstract style. So I use a line, a form and a color. So my contention is that my paintings are as realistic as Rembrandt’s… it was realistic painting in its time. It’s no longer a realistic painting. Realism’s a variable. For an artist, this is the highest thing an artist can do – to make something that’s real for his time, where he lives. But people don’t see it as realistic, they see it as abstract. But for me it’s realistic” (Alex Katz in conversation with David Sylvester, March 1997, online).
Rendered in Katz’s iconic flattened style, Red Cap is a superlative example of the artist’s characteristic aesthetic. The subject is a cool yet mysterious woman whose depiction is characterised by the elimination of high-level surface detail and the subtle play of light and shadow that make for a whimsically surreal composition. Typical of the artist’s oeuvre, the seemingly shallow spatial plane and sharp cropping device paired with the sheer size of the canvas owe much to the crisp manner of commercial art and illustration with further inspiration drawn from film, advertising and fashion. With its grand scale, bold brushwork and carefully figurative renderings, Red Cap sees Katz sublimely capture a moment, if not a second, in time. It is a striking example from Katz’s impressive oeuvre, skillfully capturing his stylised artifice in which the final portrait is recognisable, yet manifests as a distortion of reality.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale