Welcome to our new column – basically, a “best of” or “favorite” selection of a curator or gallerist from the works currently on view at their own institution.
This week, we asked Irina Toshkova, New Gallery of Modern Art’s director and co-owner, to identify her favorite piece currently on view at her gallery. Toshkova holds a Bachelor’s degree in Art History with a concentration in contemporary art from Salem College and a Master’s Degree in Arts Administration from UNC Charlotte. She is an expert in the areas of client development, corporate sales, and curating, and has extensive knowledge of interior design. Irina has handled major works by Picasso, Warhol, Hirst and other world-renowned artists, but also works with many regional artists.
Currently, Irina’s favorite work at New Gallery is a silkscreen by Alex Katz entitled Sara, 2012.
Irina explained her choice: “Katz’s piece Sara is named for Sara Mearns, the principal dancer associated with the New York Ballet. Sara is a native of Columbia, South Carolina, where she started training in ballet at the age of three. At thirteen she underwent training in Charlotte, North Carolina, as a student under Patricia McBride at Dance Place, the School of North Carolina Dance Theater. She has been featured in such publications as Vogue, Forbes, Marie Claire, The New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar Japan, and Dance Magazine, and was appointed to the distinguished position of principal dancer with New York City Ballet in 2008. Her well-established ballet career, celebrity commercial status, and fashion sense made her a rightful muse for Alex Katz’s artistic rendering. It is just one piece in the collective works of Alex Katz that represents a pivotal turning point in the timeline of American art.
During Katz’s early artistic career, the abstract expressionist movement was still in full swing. With modest palettes and minimal application styles, Katz’s paintings fell into the artistic shadows of the time. His work was publically disregarded and even frowned upon for its cartoonish resemblance and “amateur” approach. However, despite the general unpopularity of his paintings, Katz’s never-before-seen technique is credited for propelling the American art scene towards Pop Art.
His greatest artistic phase was that of portraiture. It wasn’t until later in his career, the 80’s and 90’s, that Katz began to deviate and veer towards landscapes and flora. Sara is a product of this portraiture phase, and one of many Alex Katz pieces that symbolize the evolution of contemporary painting.”
If you want to see Irina’s pick in person, stop by New Gallery of Modern Art, Tuesday – Friday from 10am until 6pm, Saturday from 11am until 5pm, or Sunday and Monday by appointment.