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GRAY is pleased to present Alex Katz and Vincent Katz in dialogue on the occasion of the exhibition Alex Katz: Collaborations with Poets, currently on view at the Poetry Foundation, Chicago. Vincent Katz, a poet, translator, curator, and critic, interviews Alex Katz on the many poetry book and journal covers Katz has designed over time, his interactions with poets, and his affinities with poetry as an art form.


Alex Katz: Collaborations with Poets takes an intimate look at the artist's long-time collaborative engagement with poets. The exhibition is the first to highlight Katz’s deep interest in poetry and his connection to the poets of the New York School. In the early 1950s, as Alex Katz entered the art world and a new style of American poetry emerged, the painter found natural affinities to the poets in their shared interest in expressing contemporary living. As scholar Debra Bricker Balken states in her essay for the forthcoming exhibition publication, “Not only did he feel that its community was vibrant but also its denizens more attuned to the present, to the impulses of American life, and to articulating new languages that brazenly defied tradition by flaunting style over meaning. What Katz found so compelling about this scene was its complete disregard for aesthetic precedent, irreverence for an academy of poetry, and gravitation toward vernacular expression, where words were less pondered and possessed an immediacy that spoke of nowness.”

The exhibition brings together works created over the past 60 years, including prints, portfolios, special-edition books, paintings, and unique cutouts, all of which center on Katz’s communion and intersection with poets throughout his career. Organized by the Poetry Foundation with guidance from the artist and his son, the poet Vincent Katz, the exhibition offers an opportunity to experience Alex Katz’s deep passion for an art form whose tactics he considers to be “more stimulating than painting.”