Rendered in the artist’s idiosyncratic flattened style, Jessica presents a critical moment in the artist’s illustrious career, bridging the iconic portraits that populate his early works, with the impressive landscapes that define the artist’s later works. The painting stands as a superb example of Katz’s particular brand of realism, not only championing the genre of the portrait, but also delving into the age-old tradition of landscape painting with the same mastery of bold brushstrokes. Jessica forms part of an important series of composite landscape and portrait images created in the late eighties and early nineties, which draw inspiration from the realms of film, advertising and fashion. Katz describes the inception of the series, "It started in the movies. I was at Film Forum, and they were showing a Russian movie. People walking down an alley with trees around them. I thought it would be a great image for a winter painting. So I went down to city hall and painted it outdoors. It was a cold winter day and the air was kind of a little heavy, so the sun was trying to come through. I painted that en plein air. I liked the image a lot, so I asked Ada to come down and I did a sketch. I started with a relatively small landscape, and then I think I did the large one because it seemed like something that would go large successfully. I just thought I’d try the split. It just seemed like it would be an interesting idea” (Alex Katz cited in Julia Felsenthal, "Alex Katz on His Painting January 3," Vogue, June 2015, online). Jessica illustrates a significant moment of radical expansion of Katz’s signature reductive painting style to new grounds, which defined the work of his later years.
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