Alex Katz - Editions & Works on Paper New York Thursday, June 27, 2024 | Phillips
  • “I also love what a simple black dress says about the woman who wears it”
    —Calvin Klein

    The black dress has been a recurring theme in Alex Katz’s work throughout his career. Its appearance as a motif in the artist’s work can be traced back to one of his most iconic early paintings, The Black Dress (1960), which depicts six different perspectives of Katz’s wife, Ada, wearing a classic black shift dress. The canvas recently was featured in the artist’s 2022 retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, cementing its importance in the artist’s oeuvre and development. Decades after the initial painting, Katz revisited the theme again, depicting women clad in this timeless outfit in a series of paintings executed on door panels. Based on these compositions, the artist created a series of nine life-sized screenprints in 2015, titled Black Dress. Continually returning to this theme across mediums, this trajectory emphasizes the deeply entwined nature of Katz’s painting and printmaking practices.


    Each work from Black Dress, the 2015 print series, is individually titled after the nine of Katz’s female friends who posed for the series: Cecily, Ulla, Sharon, Ruth, Yvonne, Yi, Carmen, Christy, and Oona. These women often modelled for the artist and, ahead of this project, Katz simply instructed them to wear black high heels and their own variations of a black dress. All the women were then depicted leaning in a near-identical pose against a yellow background. The duplicated poses and uniformity of their outfits evoke a timeless quality, recalling the 1920’s fashion salons of Coco Chanel, who has long been credited as the inventor of the LBD or Little Black Dress.


    A firm believer in the power of clothing to convey personality, Calvin Klein wrote the catalogue foreword for an exhibition of Katz’s Black Dress screenprints. Praising Katz’s "strong color fields and clean lines", Klein also stated that he loved "what a simple black dress says about the woman who wears it." Against flat planes of color, Katz’s screenprints visually reiterate Klein’s point. The personalities of each of the artist’s friends shine through in their respective portraits, aided by the stylistic variations of their black dresses.

    • Provenance

      Phillips, New York, Evening & Day Editions, April 25, 2016, lot 95
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • Literature

      Klaus Albrecht Schröder 539

Property from an Esteemed New York Collector


Yvonne, from Black Dress (S. 539)

Screenprint in colors, on Saunders Waterford paper, the full sheet.
S. 80 x 30 in. (203.2 x 76.2 cm)
Signed and numbered 8/35 in pencil (there were also 15 artist's proofs), published by Lococo Fine Art, St. Louis, Missouri, framed.

Full Cataloguing

$12,000 - 18,000 

Sold for $25,400

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Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 27 June 2024