Alex Katz’s Birthday and “The New”

Alex Katz. Passing. 1962-63

Alex Katz, Passing (1962-63)

The Allen Ginsberg Project has a good, typically link-rich post up today in honor of the painter Alex Katz’s 87th birthday.  (I’ve written before about Katz and his close ties to New York School poetry here and here).

Among other things, it features a great comment from an interview with Alex Katz by the artist Richard Prince, from the Journal of Contemporary Art, in which Katz offers a wonderful list of things that struck him as truly new when he first encountered them, in effect providing a blueprint for a great syllabus or map of 20th century music, art, literature, and film.

Prince: What are some of the things in your life that you saw or heard or came on and you thought, “Yeah, now that’s new”?

Katz: Lester Young. Billie Holiday. Be Bop. Stan Kenton. Dizzy Gillespie. Manchito. Charlie Parker. Stan Getz. Miles Davis. Sonny Rollins’s “Wagon Wheels.” Man Ray. Charles Lamb. Georges Braque’s 1913 black and white collages. Pablo Picasso’s sculptures. Malevich’s Suprematist paintings. Henri Matisse’s collages. Jackson Pollock. Barnett Newman. Clifford Still. Roy Lichtenstein, early 1960s. James Rosenquist, early 1960s. Eva Hesse. Jeff Koons. Mike Kelley’s rugs. Richard Avedon’s fashion photos, 1960s. Red Groom’s early happenings. Paul Taylor, late 1950s. William Dunas, early 1970s. Samual Beckett’s Happy Days with Ruth White. John Jesuran’s Red House. Meredith Monk’s theater and music pieces. Godard’s Breathless. Andy Warhol’s Chelsea Girls. Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. Antonioni’s L’Avventura. Rudy Burckhardt’s city and country films without acting. 1960s vinyl coats, white or black. Guillaume Apollinaire. John Ashbery’s “Skaters.” Color TV. Ads. Football. Wide-angle technicolor movies.

He had me at Beckett’s Happy Days, if not way before that …

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