Brisk Day I

“Collectors are willing to pay a hefty price for such a symbol. Katz’s paintings of Ada are his most coveted works. Recently, they began commanding seven figures at auction. Last year in London, Phillips set an auction record for Katz when it sold his 1972 portrait of Ada in the rain, Blue Umbrella I, for £3.3 million (around $4.1 million): nearly three times its high estimate. Yet even with this excitement, Katz’s market can seem chronically undervalued. Compared to painters of his generation, such as Jasper Johns, Brice Marden, and David Hockney, Katz makes art that sells at a remarkably low price point—partially, perhaps, because he’s remained remarkably prolific, and his work has always resided outside dominant art-world paradigms. As Calvin Tomkins wrote in a 2018 New Yorker profile: “He has always had his own direction, which has not been the direction of mainstream art in any of the last seven decades.”