Exhibitions & Awards
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The New Yorker January 26, 1976
Herbert Katzman — An exceptionally high order of draftmanship is manifest in this collection of drawings — in ink, wash, charcoal, pencil, conté crayon — done over the past forty years and setting forth friends, celebrities, models, landscapes and early, Groszlike antiwar sentiments. Through Jan. 31. (Dintenfass, 18 E. 67th St.)
The Soho Weekly News, January 29, 1976
F. JOSEPH SPIELER
The Drawings of Herbert Katzman
Terry Dintenfass Gallery
If people count heavily in your life, then you should visit the drawings of Herbert Katzman, at the Terry Dintenfass gallery at 18 East 67th Street.
Mr. Katzman has described his friends, lovers and heroes mostly in sepia chalk, pencil, charcoal and ink. A viruoso draftsman, Mr. Katzman brings out the soul in each of his subjects: didn't slap it on, mind you, but willed it out.
This is quite evident in some of the drawings of his friend "Eric" and is overwhelmingly present in "Ensor Seated Before 'The Entry of Christ into Brussels' " (see illustration). This drawing of the Belgian artist seated in front of his masterpiece is the boldest and the most disturbing of the drawings shown. Ensor sits in three-quarter profile on a high-backed chair, his right arm resting on a cane. Stretching before him is "The Entry of Christ into Brussels" which in Katzman's rendering is vague and cloudy, so that only certain ghastly elements are clearly visible — a skull wearing a top hat, as well as other manifestations of death. Ensor himself seems to be gazing at some inner tableau, waiting perhaps, for the death that hangs before him.
All of Katzman's later subjects shown here (they span 40 years of work) exhale a property that goeas beyond the depiction of personality. Even the New York harbor is shown this way: the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline are small elements in a drawing dominated by an enormous blackish brown cload that swirls over most of the drawing.
It is a feeling that can only partly be explained through Mr. Katzman's use of strong sepia tones. The mysticism is more reminiscent of turn-of-the-century Europe, especially of introspective Vienna.
Katzman, who is also a painter has consistently followed his own path, and his drawings show no visible influence from the modernist movements of the last 30 years. The choice Katzman made long ago serves his art today. Looking at his work is not an ordeal of interpretation: his technique is firmly subordinated to function and does not exist as a separate conundrum. Amid the hard-edged, the minimal and the super-cool, his work, its intention openly and honestly stated, is refreshing and morally reinforcing.
The New York Times, Saturday, January 3, 1976
Also on view: Herbert Katzman: Drawings 1935-75 (Terry Dintenfass Gallery, 18 East 67th Street): For a man born in 1923, Herbert Katzman got going fast. His earliest drawing at Terry Dintenfass is dated 1935. During that dismal decade he drew like what he was — a gifted schoolboy who had looked at George Grosz; the anti-Nazi sentiments are genuine and unbounded, but we feel that the subject matter is just too big for his powers.
But Mr. Katzman is a dedicated draftsman, and in the last year or two he has aimed to give drawing something of the sweep and span that are more usually the prerogatives of painting. He does this in portraits of Zero Mostel and others that have the amplitude of late 19th-century portrait painting. He also does it in imaginary scenes like the one of James Ensor in his studio with his enormous painting "The Entry of Christ Into Brussels" behind him, and he does it in the panorama (55 by 74 inches) of New York Harbor on a rainy day.
These huge drawings speak for an art that exists outside of time but somehow comes back and back at us until we give in. Through Jan. 31.