Alex Katz - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Wednesday, November 16, 2022 | Phillips

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  • "Katz’s astonishing achievement is to have reconciled abstraction and realism in post-World War II America."
    —Richard Marshalli
    Painted in 2007, Richard Marshall is a wonderful example of Alex Katz’s later portraits, rendered in the artist’s signature style for which he has become recognized over his long and illustrious career. Flat and figurative, simple and bold, Katz’s quintessentially graphic mode of painting breeds anonymity around his subjects. Here, Katz has depicted Richard Marshall, famed curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, who passed away in 2014. Marshall and Katz had a decades-long relationship, which begun when Marshall curated the first-ever retrospective of the artist’s work in 1986. Years later, Katz portrayed him as the subject of this painting—the result of which beautifully symbolizes the give and take of relationships, and, pointedly, a special relationship in the art world. Aptly, Richard Marshall comes to auction alongside the most recent major museum retrospective dedicated to Katz’s work since the one Marshall curated, now on view at the Guggenheim in New York.


    Richard Marshall, Alex Katz, exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1986, title page
    Richard Marshall, Alex Katz, exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1986, title page

    Richard Marshall: Art Historian, Curator and Writer


    Richard Marshall presents a portrait of a man whose contributions to contemporary art shaped the art world we know today. Entering the New York art scene in the early 1970s, Marshall, known for his public support of artists, is remembered for his original and rebellious way of thinking, one which often went against the status quo. He was a beloved art historian, curator, and writer, who spent more than 20 years at the Whitney curating biennials, group shows, and celebrated solo exhibitions of artists including Alexander Calder, Claes Oldenburg, Ed Ruscha, James Rosenquist, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Robert Mapplethorpe, to name but a few. In 1986, Katz joined this list of solo exhibiting icons, as Marshall curated the portraitist’s first retrospective.ii Painted seven years before Marshall’s death in 2014, and 21 years after this historic retrospective, this portrait honors a man whose impact on Katz and his career can only be surmised. The artist and his subject strike a commonality in their shared, lifelong dedication to art: one through the encouragement of creativity and expression, and the other through the physical act of producing it.

    "The face, name, and presence may be rendered familiar by the paintings. But at no point do they invite incursions into the life of the portrayed... [Katz] gives you the look, not the scoop."
    —Writer and curator Jan Verwoert
    In the present work, there’s a sophistication to Katz’s intentional brushstrokes that elevates the subject. As if there is a spotlight on his head, Marshall is framed with a halo-like aura, walking away from us, the viewer, into a dark abyss. To not exaggerate the narrative, however, Katz is discerning in the amount of detail he provides. There’s a resulting freedom in the portrayal, one which gives the viewer the opportunity to interpret the subject’s position relative to the artist. From behind, we are able to make an identification almost solely through the title of the painting, but those close to Marshall may recognize the manner in which his hair is styled, or the way his right earlobe is defined. As such, Katz portrays a level of intimacy with just enough ambiguity, allowing the painting to speak to more than just those who knew Marshall, yet poignantly to those who were close to him.


    i Richard Marshall, “Alex Katz: Sources of Style,” in Alex Katz, exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1986, p. 13.

    ii Ibid.

    • Provenance

      Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2007

Property from an Important Private Collection


Richard Marshall

signed and dated "Alex Katz 07" on the overlap
oil on linen
60 x 72 in. (152.4 x 182.9 cm)
Painted in 2007.

Full Cataloguing

$350,000 - 500,000 

Contact Specialist

Annie Dolan
Specialist, Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
+1 212 940 1288

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 16 November 2022