Seductive portraits by Alex Katz 

click to enlarge Fetching faces: Bold new works by Alex Katz are on view in “Sculptural Elegance (New Portraits)” at Meyerovich Gallery in San Francisco. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Fetching faces: Bold new works by Alex Katz are on view in “Sculptural Elegance (New Portraits)” at Meyerovich Gallery in San Francisco.

“Sculptural Elegance (New Portraits)”  couldn’t be a more apt title for Alex Katz’s show at Meyerovich Gallery. The silk-screens (and one woodcut) have a graceful simplicity, yet their stylized opulence gives them appeal as modern versions of 19th-century portraits.

Born in 1927 in Brooklyn, N.Y., Katz grew up in Queens and studied painting at Cooper Union Art School in Manhattan, and later at Skowhegan School for Painting and Sculpture in Maine, where he began to develop his figurative style, which led toward his interest and association with pop art.

He also is known for bold, hard-edged figurative portraits, like those on view in “Sculptural Elegance.”

“Vivien,” “Sarah” and “Sophia” — all 39 inches by 41 inches — are forceful, the women’s faces similarly characterized by a dominant cream tone.

But their features differ, creating rich contrasts between the portraits: “Vivien” has dark eyes and short hair, while “Sarah” and “Sophia” have lighter, longer hair and lighter eyes.

All three have appealing intensity that gives viewers the feeling the women are looking directly at them.

Other works — “Black Hat” and “Olympic Swimmer” — have a similar style but a varied approach to color.

“Black Hat,” a black-and-white, 21-by-20-inch woodcut, could be a work created for the fashion industry.

The athlete in “Olympic Swimmer” has a flesh-colored face set against a black, white and blue background.

Katz’s works are on view in more than 100 collections, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the Tate Gallery in England.

IF YOU GO

Alex Katz: Sculptural Elegance (New Portraits)

Where: Meyerovich Gallery, 251 Post St., fourth floor, S.F.

When: 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturdays; closes Sept. 20

Admission:
Free

Contact: (415) 421-7171, www.meyerovich.com

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Murray Paskin

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