Alex Katz - New Now New York Wednesday, March 8, 2023 | Phillips
  • “I wanted to paint realistically. The other guys, they all wanted to be abstract. But when you start with realistic, it’s like opening Pandora’s box. You say, ‘What is realistic?’”
    —Alex Katz
    Painted in 2005, Alex Katz’s Weeping Cherry 2 magnificently exemplifies the translation of classical genres and techniques into the artist’s signature flat style. Katz’s subdued yet energetic paintings seamlessly combine the graphic elements of Pop Art, gestural components of Abstract Expressionism and the plein air tradition to create works reflective of his intimacy with nature. To be offered at auction on the heels of Katz’s major retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Weeping Cherry 2 is a larger-than-life example of the artist's idiosyncratic paintings that cements him as one of the great artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.


    Alex Katz, Winter Scene, 1951–1952.
    Alex Katz, Winter Scene, 1951–1952, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Image: © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © 2023 Alex Katz / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    Maine Attractions


    Katz was first exposed to landscape painting while attending the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in the summers of 1949 and 1950 where the students would travel each morning to paint scenes of the Maine countryside. Recalling his experience in the program, Katz noted that this process of plein air painting gave him “a reason to devote [his] life to painting.”i This experience would prove to be formative for the artist throughout his career, as he continues in 1954 to the present day. Winter Scene, painted in 1951–1952, shares many formal qualities with Weeping Cherry 2 and underscores the artist’s lifelong passion for thin linework and intimate framing. Inspired by the seasonal changes around him, Katz’s plein air painting is an exquisite, ongoing contemplation. In the present work, springtime is here, and so are its long-awaited blooms. 

    David Hockney, No. 147, April 5, 2020.
    David Hockney, No. 147, April 5, 2020. Artwork: © David Hockney

    “A good technique holds it all together, makes it more fluid, and more believable, but it shouldn’t get in your way. A good technique is supposed to support a painting; it isn’t supposed to be in front of it, right? Also, my big audience is painters, basically. And one of the things I enjoy is, ‘Eat your heart out! Check this out and eat your heart out!’”
    —Alex Katz

    A Monumental Display of Nature


    Weeping Cherry 2 reflects Katz’s evolution from the Impressionist tendencies of his early work to the more figurative style of his mature practice. Here, he manipulates the atmospheric presence of light and a cropped perspective to create energy and depth within the otherwise flat still life. Influenced and inspired by Post-Impressionists for their ability to escape a contained plane, Katz often opted for large-scale canvases, allowing his works to stand out against the gallery wall. Standing nearly eight feet in height, Weeping Cherry 2 engulfs the viewer, drawing them into the vastness of its branches. Particularly reminiscent of David Hockney’s  iPad paintings from over the past decade, the present work is a love letter to the natural world. The serenity in Weeping Cherry 2 underscores Katz’s core principles of painting; with an aim of capturing the immediacy of the present tense, Katz’s larger-than-life landscapes depict the natural world as it truly exists, while calling upon art historical traditions. 

    i Alex Katz on “Alex Katz: Narrative Bio,” online.

    • Provenance

      Private Collection, Europe
      Pace Gallery, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Boca Raton, Rosenbaum Contemporary, Alex Katz: People & Places, January 24–April 7, 2018, n.p. (illustrated)


Weeping Cherry 2

signed and dated "Alex Katz 05" on the overlap
oil on linen
96 1/4 x 48 in. (244.5 x 121.9 cm)
Painted in 2005.

Full Cataloguing

$250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for $381,000

Contact Specialist

Avery Semjen
Head of Sale, New Now
212 940 1207

New Now

New York Auction 8 March 2023