“Or the old, oft-quoted story . . . how, as you work, the room is full of other artists, but as you keep at it, one by one they all leave, and then the work is you. Nonsense—nobody leaves.”
Near the end of his life, the poet Bill Berkson wrote a text in which he likens artistic originality to polyphony: musical harmony created from multiple, overlapping melodies. Unlike the dominant idea of the singular creative genius, Berkson imagines an artist’s unique perspective as an accumulation of others’ voices, insights, and styles—especially those of close friends and teachers. And when he identifies Alex Katz as one such voice that “I hear all the time,” he is certainly in good company: Katz’s close friendships and deep engagements with generations of poets, choreographers, and visual artists are a defining feature of his lasting cultural impact.
In recent decades, Katz has expanded his support of other visual artists through the Alex Katz Foundation, which has donated nearly five hundred outstanding artworks to the Colby College Museum of Art. As a companion to the exhibition Alex Katz: Theater and Dance, this installation of the Katz Foundation Collection explores the idea of visual polyphony. These artworks create unexpected unities and harmonies; use materials to invite multisensory, bodily experiences; and explore dance and choreography by putting patterns of movement into action.
The works on view intentionally combine different strategies, sources, and techniques to create their powerful effects. Together, they are both a vital presentation of leading contemporary artists and a many-voiced celebration of Alex Katz’s own creative sensibilities.
“All in One”: Selections from the Alex Katz Foundation Collection features works by Marina Adams, Lynda Benglis, Ronald Bladen, Travis Boyer, Rudy Burckhardt, Peter Linde Busk, Enzo Cucchi, Frederico de Francesco, Dara Friedman, Tamara Gonzales, Chantal Joffe, Alex Katz, Udomsak Krisanamis, Emma McMillan, Elizabeth Murray, Joyce Pensato, Ellen Phelan, Ann Pibal, Nathlie Provosty, Murray Reich, Joel Shapiro, and Nicole Wittenberg.