If you’ve strolled along the High Line in the past six months, and managed to look up between sips of Blue Bottle Coffee and captioning the perfect #highline ‘gram, you’ve probably seen Alex Katz’s public art commission on the side of the TF Cornerstone building in NYC’s Meatpacking District. Katz’s installation of Katherine and Elizabeth (2012) is part of a long-term public art collaboration between the High Line and the Whitney Museum that introduces new art to the space every eight to twelve months. Thus, it is no coincidence that Katz’s work is installed directly across from the Whitney Museum’s new home, set to open on May 1. Katz’s works were first displayed at the the Whitney in 1974 and the museum hosted the artist’s first major retrospective in 1986. While the Katz installation serves to link the current Upper East Side space with the museum’s new digs, the public art collaboration project between the High Line and the Whitney is about more than just bridging uptown and downtown. The Whitney director Adam Weinberg said that the installation is part of “‘reconnecting with the neighbourhood where we had a deep historical connection,” noting that the Whitney’s brand new Renzo Piano building is just blocks from the museum’s original home on West 8th Street in Greenwich Village. Katz’s history with the Whitney as well as his previous involvement in public art projects, such as the 2005 installation of the Give Me Tomorrow billboard above the ever-popular B Bar and Grill and the 2010 New York City Taxi Project, made him a natural choice for the collaboration’s first installation. But how did Katz’s work featuring RISD’s own Elizabeth McEvoy make the cut? The curators chose Katz’s 2012 painting, Katherine and Elizabeth, given that it would read well from a long distance. But if you haven’t had the chance to check out the scaled-up 17-by-29 foot digital print of Elizabeth, you might have the opportunity to run into the real-life version on College Hill. Well actually, Elizabeth McAvoy is currently studying abroad in Italy, but keep an eye out for her next Fall. In the meantime, check out my interview with Katz’s RISD-raised muse after the jump!
BlogDH: How long have you been a subject of Alex Katz?
E: I started sitting for him in 2010, so I guess five years now.
BlogDH: What it’s like to sit for and be Katz’s subject?
E: His studio is beautiful. He has a summer home in Maine, which is where I’m from, so the painting sessions take place in his studio on a small lake. While he paints I have to sit very still for a couple of hours. So, for entertainment, he tells me various stories from his life as an artist, people he’s met, and just general thoughts on pop culture. He’s hilarious.