Summer seems to be coming in fits and starts to the UK this year. Regardless, the holidaying season is fully upon us now. We have actually seen some sunshine, the beaches are full and thermometer has even occasionally crept up to the mid-twenties. So it feels like a week to finally celebrate summer in Work of the Week, even if it might not still feel like summer by Friday.
This summery work, Ocean View, was painted in 1992 by Alex Katz. While its bold flattened bands of colour are typical of Katz’s work, it also combines some of his favourite subjects: flowers, the Maine landscape and leisure. Katz has been painting landscapes since the 1950s, and often spends summers at his seaside retreat of Lincolnville, Maine, in the north eastern part of the US. Despite being part of the generation that produced the Abstract Expressionsm of Pollock or Rothko, Katz’s work is figurative, painting from life and working with traditional and classical subjects such as portraiture and the figure, landscape and marine scenes and flowers. A precursor of Pop Art in the 1960s, his work often has the flat, bold colours or the close crop of the advertising hoarding, and (by painting family friends or familiar landscapes) Katz shows us an America of easy living and recreation.
If the thought of the sea breeze rippling through the dune grasses and daisies and the sound of the waves lapping on the beach has whet your appetite for the coast, you can see this work on display at Tate St Ives in Alex Katz: Give Me Tomorrow, where of course you can also see the sea from the gallery. You can also enter Tate St Ives competition to win a trip to Maine yourself. Or you can just stare at this painting, put the electric fan on, and wish you were there.