Panel explores artist Katz’s work

On Saturday, visitors to a School of Art panel of artists, critics, poets and writers gained new insight into “Katz x Katz,” currently on display at the school’s Edgewood gallery.

Organized and moderated by School of Art Dean Robert Storr, a longtime friend of Alex Katz and curator of the Katz exhibit, the panel helped introduce and explain Katz’s work to the public. Panelists, who all know Katz on a personal and professional level, included artist David Salle, critic Irving Sandler and Vincent Katz, a poet and the artist’s son. Discussion topics ranged from Katz’s development as an artist to how poets and other artists define and are inspired by Katz’s work.

“People have struck an attitude towards Katz without really looking at his work,” Storr said.

Panelists agreed that Katz’s ability to capture a moment in time — a “snapshot” — is a central aspect of his work. Still, the speakers could not come to a conclusion about how viewers relate to the work in terms of time — returning to a past event, reinterpreting a moment in the present or failing to place the moment at a definite time.

“I thought the idea of the immersion in time and the fugitive nature of experience was very apt in terms of how I see [Katz’s] work,” Storr said.

Salle, one of the artists on the panel, partially attributed Katz’s success to his ability to generate energy for both himself and his audience. He explained that Katz’s analytical and expressive approach to painting keeps increasingly younger audiences engaged with his work.

John Godfrey, a poet who has been inspired by Katz’s work, said Katz’s carefully planned process is instructive for poets, because they too attempt to capture a particular moment in time.

Three attendees, both School of Art students and a New Haven visitor who had already seen “Katz x Katz,” said the panel helped them better understand the show. Allen Chen ART ’14 said he now appreciates the historical context of Katz’s work, giving him a more complete perspective.

“[The panel] made me think about [Katz’s] work more deeply and of how complex it is,” said Francesca Pietropaolo, an art historian and curator from Venice, Italy, who traveled from New York to see the panel. “The mix of a critic, a painter, art historians and poets was really important.”

“Katz x Katz” will be on display at the Edgewood gallery until March 10.

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