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Alex Katz

The Red Smile
1963

Not on view

Date
1963

Classification
Paintings

Medium
Oil on canvas

Dimensions
Overall: 78 7/8 × 115in. (200.3 × 292.1 cm)

Accession number
83.3

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Painting and Sculpture Committee

Rights and reproductions
© Alex Katz / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

In The Red Smile, Alex Katz painted a profile of his wife Ada’s face, set against a smooth red background. Although the portrait bears Ada’s features, it’s simplified, almost billboard-style rendering seems generic—an effect reinforced by its large scale, nearly 7 x 10 feet. Katz’s broad, unmodulated expanses of color resist a three-dimensional reading, which allies his work with Minimalist art that reduced form to bare essentials. The scale of the work, coupled with the cropping of the image and its smooth painting surface, produces an effect that the artist describes as the “immediate sensation you see before you focus.”          




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