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The Galleries

La Cienega Area

December 22, 1989|CATHY CURTIS

Alex Katz continues to paint arresting icons of contemporary Woman, frozen in big, flat patterns of color, light and shadow. A bare foot in a beach shoe, a luminous blonde doing a cocktail party slouch with her cleft-chinned hunk in tow, a profiled woman in a snood and huge dangling earring--they're all oddly familiar and grandly over-scaled. These paintings are about style and attitude, but they're also about the big lie of art. Like movie images, these figures have no depth; they offer only the instantaneously engrossing impact of a close-up.

In "The Black Dress," six identical slender women in little black dresses and minimal hair stand against a neutral background, their postures closely duplicating one another. They all look alike because they are essentially all the same woman--a type found at upscale social gatherings in Manhattan. Multiplied by six, looming against a completely neutral background, they are ubiquitous--a frieze of almond-eyed urban goddesses.

Katz's use of color in other works suggests the selective role of memory. You can imagine recalling just a few things about the man in "Green Jacket": the number of wrinkles in his forehead, his wary expression and the curiously strong impact of the color of his jacket. (Michael Kohn Gallery, 313 N. Robertson Blvd., to Jan. 27.)

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