Alex Katz’s Coca-Cola Girls come home to Atlanta

The new gallery Maune Contemporary opens with a show of iconic painter Alex Katz’s 2018 series depicting the women of the soft drink’s famous ads

by Andrew Alexander
September 11, 2019

“That’s Coca-Cola red, from the company’s outdoor signs in the fifties,” Alex Katz has said of his 2018 series Coca-Cola Girls. “You know, the blonde girl in the red convertible, laughing with unlimited happiness. It’s a romance image.”

Atlantans certainly don’t need to be told where that red is from. The city is the home of Coca-Cola, so it’s fitting that the iconic painter’s new images pay a visit to their spiritual hometown.

Maune Contemporary will be the first Atlanta gallery to show Katz’s Coca-Cola Girls. We caught up with owners Heidi and Ramsey Maune to discuss their new venture.

Running a gallery can be tough business. What made you decide to take the leap and open Maune Contemporary? 

Heidi Maune: After Ramsey & I got married this June, we wanted to create something together and through our mutual love of contemporary art and collecting, opening our own gallery seemed like a perfect fit. I’ve always had the dream to one day start something of my own, and Ramsey had built his own real estate business back in St. Louis, so naturally had the same entrepreneurial spirit. Of course, starting a new business is definitely tough. There are many forces at play including the local market, the world economy, changing tastes, and many more unknowns.  We are willing to go through the growing pains and look forward to seeing where the journey takes us.

Can you tell me a little more about yourselves and your backgrounds? How and when did you develop an interest in collecting art?

Ramsey Maune: While neither of us have a degree in the arts, we both started becoming interested after college. My older sister has worked at a gallery in Kansas City since she left college, so that led to my initial interest in contemporary art, which eventually led to collecting.  I also took and art classes at Washington University while pursuing my MBA and really began to appreciate artists and their craft. Heidi has traveled Europe extensively and lived in Barcelona for a year after college, which was when her love of art really flourished. When we started dating, we frequented galleries and art fairs everywhere we traveled. In fact, our first date in 2015 was to the Alex Katz show at The High Museum, so Katz holds a very special place in our hearts.  

How would you describe your aesthetic? What draws you to a particular work of art? 

Heidi Maune: What draws us to a particular piece of art or artist is constantly evolving. We love the color, simplicity, and movement clearly manifested in many of Alex Katz’s figurative work as much as the distinct, clear abstract work of Ellsworth Kelly and the street art inspired work of emerging artist Justin Lyons, who we are excited to represent. We love sculpture by Bernar Venet, Donald Sultan and Deb Kass among many others. We look forward to attending more fairs and gallery events to further broaden our repertoire and discovery of more artists who move us personally, and in turn, hope to have the opportunity to share through our own gallery in Atlanta.  

Can you tell me a little more about the upcoming first show and how it came together? What excites you about opening with Alex Katz?

Ramsey Maune: Alex Katz is considered one of the most important living artists, and we feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to open with this show, especially in Atlanta. By chance, he had just completed his Coca Cola girl series when we happened to see it at Art Basel last year. That really was the catalyst that drove us to opening Maune Contemporary. What is more fitting than an artist who showed at the High a few years ago, and the fact that Coca Cola is headquartered here? It just felt right. Through our publisher, Lococo Fine Art Publishers, we were able to secure not only limited edition screenprints by Alex Katz, but also an original oil painting from the Coca Cola Girl series. While many people know who Alex Katz is, we are just as excited to introduce him to those who do not know his work, and we look forward to the discussion that will occur around this exhibition.

What’s ahead for the gallery after Alex Katz? What sort of works do you plan to show in the future? 

Heidi Maune: We have a show in November with Ted Collier, whose work is collected all over the world including many Nordstroms, exclusive hotels and private collectors. He also recently held a show at the Delano in Miami.  We’re also excited about Justin Lyons, an artist based out of Florida who has been gaining quite a following and just completed a show in the Hamptons. We have plans to do a wonderful Donald Sultan limited edition print show as well. We also hope to do educational programs, workshops and lectures in the future with amazing guest speakers. Many things are in the works to share at a later date, so stay tuned.

Alex Katz: Coca-Cola Girl opens at Maune Contemporary, 747-A Miami Circle NE, Atlanta, on September 13 at 6 p.m.