Alex Katz

In Timothy Taylor's new gallery, a crisply corporate space in a building that may once have been a banking hall and which now deals in the kind of nebulous currency appropriate to its neighbouring hedge fund clients, are four paintings by Alex Katz.

So what would you be getting if you invested in one of these pictures - 'Winter Landscape' for example? Will it guarantee a future return, this late example of a finite resource (who is, according to the gallery, one of the most significant artists of the post-war American scene)? Or is its true value less certainly quantifiable?



'Winter Landscape' (2006) is huge, a soft loosely brushed space of bare young trees and branches. There is a kind of shallow misted space behind the dark and spare calligraphy but it remains tentative and quickly returns the eye to the surface of the picture. It has the feel of a small picture, or even the page of a sketch book, which has been excessively scaled up. Although the trees are life size, they lack solidity, and there is not much else to hold onto in this thinly washed and mute expanse of canvas.

It carries however a deceptive charge, this landscape shorn of action and drama; its stillness is one of silent reverie, or the apparent recovery of a daydream previously experienced (as well as recorded, through earlier versions of the same scene). And it is expressed with the assurance of an artist now in the winter of old age (Katz is now in his 80th year), and who, like Hokusai, achieves with deceptive simplicity what Robert Rosenblum described as an impossible marriage of the grand and the small, or the epic and the humble. Whoever comes to own this painting, at whatever cost, owns no more than the transience of time.