On the occasions when it works, Katz's art often has the intrigue of old snap shows, interesting because of their colorful glimpses into the past. His 1980 lithograph Blue Umbrella, copying a 1972 painting, depicts Ada with her head wrapped in a paisley scarf, standing under a blue umbrella in the rain. She has a sickly gray face, and one raindrop aligns with her eye like a tear. It stands out because of its cinematic, melancholy mood.

>> SLIDESHOW: "Alex Katz at the MFA" <<

Greenberg ended up being right that the main narrative of modern art was abstraction. But six decades on, realism dominates the top of the art world, from Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst to Cindy Sherman and Gerhard Richter. Katz, long ensconced in the history books despite his flaws, can seem today like one of the founding fathers of the counterrevolution.

Read Greg Cook's blog at  gregcookland.com/journal.

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