In a 1968 interview, Katz described his paintings of flowers as an extension of the cocktail party scenes he often painted. He remarked that the flowers are “all overlapping volumes” like the individuals in his figure groupings, which overlap one another as they advance into the painting’s pictorial space. However, by selecting flowers as a subject he sought to introduce a greater degree of movement in the work without literally representing something in motion, thus focusing on the unfolding form of a rose bud. Indeed, White Roses 9 (2012) offers a composition of volumes and voids that dance across the surface of the canvas.
Katz uses a physically poetic language—similar to dance—in his work, allowing the viewer to adapt that structure to his or her own frame of mind and emotional bearing. Light and form provide an unexpected syncopation of movement across the surface of his paintings of flowers. Painted rapidly and assuredly, wet into wet, the flowers oscillate between states of awkwardness and grace typically associated with the human body. Katz’s roses, with their fleshy petals and serrated leaves, are aggressive and fierce, belying the congenial association that flowers typically summon.