In Blue Umbrella 2 (1972), Alex Katz depicts Ada Katz, his wife and most iconic subject. Over the course of a collaboration between artist and sitter that stretches from the late 1950s to today, Katz has portrayed Ada in countless guises, from radiant ingénue, to preoccupied young mother, to reflective nonagenarian.
In this painting, she assumes the remote glamour of a mid-century film star. Protectively encircled by both the umbrella, and a silk headscarf, as rain spills around her in stylized, teardrop forms, she projects a riveting charisma yet retains in inscrutable reserve. Rendered in Katz’s luminous style of wet-on-wet painting, in which different colors are applied in a single session, while the canvas remains wet, the work conjures the intensity of the cinematic close-up, while calling attention to a composition of bravura brushwork.
Photographed in the Guggenheim Museum as part of the Exhibit, Alex Katz: Gathering, On View Through February 20th, 2023.