Alex Katz & Félix Vallotton

Alex Katz & Félix Vallotton

Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne (MCBA)

Alex Katz, Homage to Monet 1, 2009. Oil on canvas, 183 x 366 cm. Courtesy of the artist © 2013, ProLitteris, Zurich.*

March 21, 2013

Alex Katz, Félix Vallotton
On Painting
22 March–9 June 2013
Opening: 21 March, 6:30pm

Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts
Palais de Rumine, Place de la Riponne 6
CH – 1014 Lausanne

T +41 21 316 34 45 
F +41 21 316 34 46
info.beaux-arts [​at​]

“When I showed Alex Katz reproductions of the paintings of Félix Vallotton compared to his own, he kept on exclaiming, ‘But what a wonderful painter!’ And, with regard to the evident similarities between them, ‘It’s incredible!’ Something passed through the heads of these two artists—who came from utterly different eras, cultures and environments—in which painting became something of a cosa mentale, that is to say when an idea or pictorial concept takes precedence over the execution or visual result. It goes without saying that neither Katz nor Vallotton are conceptual artists but both subject nature and the human figure to a very particular vision and a manifestly anti-naturalist treatment through the practice of a sort of painting for painting’s sake. Both accept that a painting is foremost an assemblage of lines and blocks of colour on a flat surface.”
Bernard Fibicher, Director and Curator

The Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts presents the art of two painters that one would immediately expect to be quite different: one, a French Swiss born in Lausanne in 1865, and the other, an American who is still very active and has worked in New York and Maine for more than sixty years.

On Painting. Alex Katz & Félix Vallotton presents more than 40 works by this major contemporary artist, ranging from the 1950s to the present day. The exhibition compares the works of the American with some 30 paintings by Félix Vallotton: this joint presentation offers a completely new perspective on the astonishing similarity between these two key figures of international painting.

Félix Vallotton (1865–1925) is more than ever in the contemporary eye. His work was recently shown at the Kunstmuseum in Berne (Sunsets, 2004/05), the Kunsthaus in Zurich and the Hamburger Kunsthalle (Idyll on the Edge, 2007/08). And in autumn 2013 the Musée d’Orsay in Paris will dedicate a large retrospective to his work, the first in the French capital. With more than 500 works (including drawings and prints), the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne holds the largest Vallotton collection in the world. So as to show it off to best effect within its own walls, as it does not currently have the space to present the collection as a whole, the museum has decided to show the Vallotton works side by side with those of one of the best known American painters. Vallotton’s modernity no longer has to be made plain: when shown alongside the work of Alex Katz, it springs to the eye even today.

Born in 1927, Alex Katz is a major figure of late 20th-century American painting. His resolutely figurative art centres on such traditional genres as individual and group portraits, natural and urban landscapes, and floral still-lifes, and in the early 1960s he was associated with Pop Art on account of his very neutral technique that is close to advertising images and cinema stills. Making particular use of a deadpan, detached and often monumental approach, his representations are elaborated through the simplification of forms and planes and the reduction of the palette, extending Vallotton’s painting to the fringes of abstraction. Of the painters that have inspired Alex Katz, two that stand out are Pierre Bonnard and Jackson Pollock. Félix Vallotton, however, is not on the list nor was his work ever really known by the American. Nevertheless, surprising similarities are apparent between the two artists as their approach is identical: sublimation through painting.

Peinture. Alex Katz & Félix Vallotton
Texts by Bernard Fibicher, Catherine Lepdor, Camille Lévêque-Claudet and Eric de Chassey (in French, but English translations available upon request).
104 pages, 24 x 28 cm, 74 colour illustrations
Published jointly by the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne and 5 Continents, Milan, 2013
Order from the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts

Opening hours
Tuesday to Wednesday: 11am–6pm
Thursday: 11am–8pm
Friday to Sunday: 11am–5pm
Closed on Monday
Good Friday (29 March) and Ascension Day (9 May): 11am–5pm

Events program:

*Image above: Alex Katz, Homage to Monet 1, 2009. Oil on canvas, 183 x 366 cm. Courtesy of the artist © 2013, ProLitteris, Zurich. All rights reserved. Reproduction and all use of the works other than individual and private consultation are forbidden without prior authorisation.

Alex Katz & Félix Vallotton at Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne
RSVP for Alex Katz & Félix Vallotton
Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne (MCBA)
March 21, 2013

Thank you for your RSVP.

Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne (MCBA) will be in touch.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for subscribing to e-flux

Feel free to subscribe to additional content from the e-flux platform.