A rather obscure personality has come to occupy Hall 14 bis of the Museum of Modern Art, Paris with his black and white photographs: it’s Benjamin Katz. And what a beautiful surprise this exhibition has turned out to be!
Born in Anvers in 1939, Katz grew up in Belgium. In 1956, he moved to Berlin and since then, he has spent much of his life in Germany where he managed several galleries. Before becoming a full-time profession, photography for Katz was a mere hobby. A prolific photographer ever since, he is today credited with some of the most intimate ‘behind-the-scenes’ photographs of important artists since the 70s.
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The Museum of Modern Art’s Katz exhibition comes in the wake of an important donation of 230 photographs by the Societé des Amis du Musée d’Art moderne. For this exhibition, the museum has selected seventy photographs that present an overview of Katz’s discrete but intimate work. We see portraits of Georg Baselitz, Keith Haring, Gerhard Richter and Eugene Leroy at work or in their studios, as also of James Lee Byars, A R Penck and Sigmar Polke at their exhibitions.
With his subjects, Katz is like a fish in the water. His photographs don’t seem intrusive. The protagonists appear natural and trust Katz completely. He, in return, does a magnificent job of capturing the true essence of these artists. Amongst the pictures on display, we thus have Baselitz cutting wood for a new sculpture, Joseph Beuys stretched out on the floor and Sigmar Polke sifting through a dustbin for potential materials for his next project. However, the most intense ones are those of Gerhard Richter that bear witness to their long years of friendship.
When he is not photographing the ‘art-scene’, Katz also takes landscape photographs, particularly in Dinard. Some of his landscapes are also exhibited. Almost devoid of all human presence, these serene photographs appear to be a testimony to the calm intensity that pervades almost all of Katz’s work.
The exhibition runs through December 31, 2016 and is accessible for free. While you are there, do check out the sculptures and paintings by some of Katz’s artists that form a part of the museum’s excellent permanent collection.
Benjamin Katz; Museum of Modern Art, 11, Avenue du President Wilson, 75116 Paris; Free entry
September 30, 2016 to December 31, 2016
At Musée d'art moderne
Benjamin Katz is credited with some of the most discrete but intimate ‘behind-the-scenes’ photographs of the ‘art-scene’ actors. Museum of Modern Art, Paris presents a selection of seventy black and white photographs made by Katz between 1970s and present. On view are photographs of artists such as Georg Baselitz, Keith Haring, Gerhard Richter and Eugene Leroy at work or in their studios, as also of James Lee Byars, A R Penck and Sigmar Polke at their exhibitions. Beautiful and absolutely unmissable!
Musée d'art moderne