Alex Katz - Artist Profile

    Alex Katz was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1927. In 1928, at the outset of the Depression, his family moved to St. Albans, a diverse suburb of Queens that had sprung up between the two world wars. Katz was raised by his Russian émigré parents, both of whom were interested in poetry and the arts, his mother having been an actress in Yiddish Theater. Katz attended Woodrow Wilson High School for its unique program that allowed him to devote his mornings to academics and his afternoons to the arts. In 1946, Katz entered The Cooper Union Art School in Manhattan. - Biography from Alex Katz official website

    Alex Katz's portraits and landscapes are reminiscent of film and advertising billboards with their flat planes of beautiful color. His paintings of Ada Katz, his wife and muse, are a particular highlight. His signature style was created in response to the Abstract Expressionionism which dominated the 20th century when Katz began painting. He instead embraced narrative, figurative clarity, and the accessible pleasures of Pop Art.

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    However, he is not tied to any school or movement. Katz attended Cooper Union in New York and then spent a summer studying plain air painting at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He began presenting regularly in New York and other cities around the world. His work has been featured in exhibitions at many institutions, including the Whitney Museum of American Art and the National Portrait Gallery.  

    Alex Katz's is best known for his large-scale canvases with simplified figures, set against a monochrome background. Ada, Katz's wife of over 60 years, appears in numerous paintings. In 1960, he began to collaborate with Paul Taylor, a choreographer and dancer. He created costumes and set designs in his dance company. The collaboration was not only for the stage but also sparked Katz’s interest in motion representation, which he continues to explore through his portrayals of dancers and models.

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    The paintings created by Alex Katz are often large in scale and feature minimal color. He creates landscapes and portraits with deceptive simplicity through the use of flat colors and minimal forms. It took him 10 years to create the distinctive, stark style that is printed and his other work . He has claimed that he destroyed hundreds upon paintings during this time. 

     Investment wise Alex Katz's work has seen quite the price appreciation the past few years. His work sells for anywhere from $4,000 - $700,000 USD, and these prices seem to continue to rise as Katz ages. 

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    Despite not associating himself with the Pop Art world, many continue to state how important he's been to this movement. His work is simply appealing to the eye, its simplistic yet soothing to look at because of the flat colours and quite noised figures. It's quite obvious when you come across his work, his work is unique to it's own style, he really did create a type of style when it comes to contemporary art.  

    Katz's first solo exhibition was held in New York at Roko Gallery, 1954. Over the years, he experimented with collage and painting on aluminum sheets. His work from the 1960s was influenced by film and advertising. Katz began to create portrait groups that depicted New York's cultural scene in the 1970s. In the 1980s, Katz shifted his attention to fashion and supermodels. Ada Katz, his wife, has been a constant inspiration for his portraits since the 1950s. Others have also painted famous people and friends. Katz's portraits are intimate and close, with their often cropped faces expressing tension with the subjects' mysterious expressions and color planes.

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