"Part of what I'm about, is seeing how I can paint the same thing differently,
instead of different things in the same way."
- Alex Katz
Craven Contemporary is pleased to present The Flowers: Featuring Alex Katz and Michael De Feo. Second in a series of three exhibitions to be mounted this summer, The Flowers pairs four large flower prints by renowned painter and printmaker, Alex Katz, alongside the works of other artists.
Beginning Saturday July 24, Katz's flower prints are presented beside the work of New York-based artist, Michael De Feo.
De Feo is widely known for his paintings and street art which examine themes of ephemerality, play, growth, and the cycle of life. De Feo's use of, and inspiration from flowers has earned him the nickname, "The Flower Guy". For almost thirty years, Michael has been creating works on the streets in more than 60 cities around the world including New York, Paris, Venice, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires.
In 2012, De Feo transcended his street art flowers by embracing the concept as the focus of his studio paintings, exploring and expressing these ideas throughout various bodies of work. In his "fashion takeover" paintings, De Feo adds floral-inspired brushwork onto existing printed images from the fashion world which he sources from magazines and city bus stop shelter advertising vitrines. These paintings both harmonize with, as well as celebrate, the underlying images while simultaneously subverting them. The exhibition showcases nine recent examples of these magazine page paintings.
De Feo and Katz, artists from two different generations and approaches, clearly share the same passion for flowers, each offering their own unique perspective and dialog with their muse. Both artists continue to find nourishment from their mutual subject matter, returning to it year after year.
Katz has been painting flowers since the 1950's, "It was a very macho environment," he says, "and I thought flowers would be a nice foil for the machos, so I did delicate little flowers and hung them with the abstract expressionists." His depictions of nature are full of life and often playful. In a similar way, De Feo's presentations of flowers in the street are a stark contrast to a gritty city built of concrete and steel. Furthermore, De Feo's flowers are seemingly playful and sweet, an obvious contrast to the graffiti it frequently shared wall space with.
In an interview from 1968, Katz described his paintings of flowers as an extension of the cocktail party scenes he frequently painted. He stated that the flowers are "all overlapping volumes". Likewise in Michael's paintings on magazine pages, the paint strokes dance on top of each other, shimmer and cascade, frequently creating a sense of movement. In two large vertical paintings on paper, one from 2017 and another from 2021, the evolution of Michael's blossom-inspired mark making and visual vocabulary is presented side-by-side.
Alex Katz’s work is in the collections of over 100 public institutions worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of Art, New York; the Tate Gallery, London; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Katz has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship for Painting in 1972; and in 1987, both Pratt Institute’s Mary Buckley Award for Achievement and the Queens Museum of Art Award for Lifetime Achievement. He continues to work in New York City and Maine at age 93 and will have a major retrospective exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York 2022.
Michael De Feo’s monograph, Flowers, was published by Abrams Books in 2019 and was supported with a tour of museums and bookshops in both America and Europe. His work has appeared in a variety of film documentaries including Alice Arnold's To Be Seen (aired on PBS/WNET and screened at The Museum of Modern Art, 2006); and Banksy's Exit Through The Gift Shop: A Banksy Film (Paranoid Pictures, 2010) which was an Academy Award best documentary nominee. De Feo's work has been featured in over 40 books and he has collaborated with fashion brands such as Neiman Marcus, Christian Louboutin, La Mer, and presently with French luxury perfume house, Guerlain. His work has been exhibited at museums and galleries around the world including The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY; The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT; Museo de Arte, San Juan, Puerto Rico; and most recently, Hexton Gallery, Aspen.
The Flowers: Featuring Alex Katz and Michael De Feo
July 24 - September 19, 2021
Gallery reception (and artist remarks):
Saturday, July 24, 4:00 - 6:00 pm
Artist meet-and-greet (and book signing)
Saturday, August 28, 12:00 - 2:00 pm
4 Fulling Lane
Kent, CT 06757
+1 (646) 355 - 8142