Double Feature: Brice Marden and Alex Katz

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Brice Marden
This film will be introduced by Dr. Karen Schiff
After a few seconds of footage from 1968 of the artist working, this powerful film moves into 1976, providing an intimate look at the enigmatic abstract painter, Brice Marden.

Shot in 16mm shortly after Marden’s 1975 exhibition at the Guggenheim, this film reveals, through interviews with Marden and numerous shots of his preparations and working process, the depth of intellectual creativity behind his works.

“Living on islands leads you to think in certain ways,” says the artist, who divides his time beween Manhattan and Hydra, Greece. We see how notebook sketches and ideas are transformed into artwork, or serve simply as inspiration. We see Marden using sandpaper, beeswax rubbed into paper with a razorblade, and graphite stick to create monochromatic, dense works on paper.

“You’re constantly referring back to this memory of observed color,” says Marden, embarking on a gray painting. The search for a matte surface led to the use of wax, which he employs on canvas as well as paper, mixing it with pigments to create something natural.

The left-handed painter stuns and moves us with his provocative statements. “Can you just make presence?...As you get older, you refine and refine…I wouldn’t trust a painter unless I thought he or she was crazy in some way. And it always shows in the work.”

View film trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-mJXdcOWMM#action=share

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Alex Katz: Five Hours, a Film by Vivian Bittencourt & Vincent Katz
This film will be introduced by Dr. Karen Schiff
When Alex Katz paints one of his large, signature paintings, it is an act of the utmost concentration, a performance in which he draws on years of experience as well as preliminary sketches, painted studies, finished drawings, and a large charcoal cartoon, as he transfers the bare bones of the image to his canvas. It is only then is he set to paint — he usually finishes his paintings within the span of a day.

In this case, he paints the six-by-fourteen foot January III in five hours, as his son, Vincent Katz, and daughter-in-law, Vivien Bittencourt, film him.

This painting furnishes an ideal example of Katz’s technique, as we witness, in separate panels of a triptych framework, spontaneous passages of tree branches and the controlled modeling of a large face of his wife, Ada, the subject of many of Katz’s paintings.

We also observe the artist’s famous portrait style, as well as the landscape style for which Katz has been acclaimed.

The filmmakers decided against the use of dialogue; the painter is accompanied only by the music of composer and theater artist Meredith Monk.

This film captures the essence of Katz, that quality Robert Storr of the Museum of Modern Art defines as the unquantifiable “cool”, in a dazzling and moving display of commitment to the experience of painting.

View film trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xq1MTkgOMSs#action=share

About Dr. Karen Schiff
Karen Schiff earned an MFA in Studio Art from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts / Tufts University in 2006, with Honors in Drawing; she also has studio training from the Rhode Island School of Design, the New York Studio School, and the Art Students League of New York. She was motivated to return to making art after seeing the work of Agnes Martin, during her her doctoral studies in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory, and Martin’s artwork, writings, and life story continue to be touchstones. She earned a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1998 and became an Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities and Literature in an English department; her more recent research, teaching, and writing are all filtered through her renewed studio practice.
Karen’s artwork has appeared in Art Journal from the College Art Association and in many gallery and museum exhibitions: in “Art = Text = Art,” for instance, her work traveled with other selections from the Kramarsky collection of contemporary drawing to four museums in the U.S. and in Iceland (see artequalstext.com). Her most recent solo exhibition was “Broken Letters (After Agnes),” at First Things Gallery in New York City in 2017.
Karen’s writing has been published in Art in America, Art in Print, and Art Journal, as well as online at Hyperallergic Weekend (New York) and Big, Red & Shiny (Boston). Her award-winning artwork is archived in museum collections at Colby College, Brown University, and Yale University, corporate collections such as the MCS Collection of Contemporary Drawing (Portugal), and many private collections.
Karen is based in New York City; this Spring she is living in Providence while teaching at RISD and the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts. Her website is http://www.karen-schiff.com