Alex Katz was right up there with Andy Warhol when I was in my twenties. We used to stay with Charlie Coco at his place on 43rd when we came down to New York back then. He took us over to see Moondog passing out sheet music on the corner and to Times Square in 1977 where Katz’s giant portraits were painted on the sides of building, back when the cigarette billboard puffed steam, before LEDs took all the visual space. I still have the article from the NYTs.
Alex Katz is on a short list of artist’s I have run into in New York (Chuck Close-twice, John Baldessari, Julian Schnabel and Annie Leibowitz). A full drum set was part of an installation at one of the Whitney Biennials. Visitors were welcome to play it. I sat down and made a two minute racket. When I stood up I was face to face with the smartly dressed Alex Katz.
The Alex Katz retrospective, “Gathering,” at the Guggenheim was on our agenda. Not that we had much of one. We seem to have the best return, a feast for the mind and eye, when we just stumble around the gallery districts of Tribeca and Chelsea as we did on Tuesday and Wednesday. Full days of absorption. And at Marlborough Gallery on 25th Street we found an Alex Katz spoiler on their second floor gallery. I was able to study, up close, the magic at the edges of Katz’s broad brush strokes that David Salle calls loving attention to in his book, “How to See.” After watching the Guggenheim video of the show and with the forecast for a few feet of snow upstate. we lopped a day of our NYC visit and took a train back.