Alex Katz

Known for his paintings of modern American life, Alex Katz was born in 1927 in Brooklyn. Graduating from the Cooper Union Art School in 1949, he spent the following summer at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. Katz’s time spent in Maine would prove fundamental to his later career, as it was while painting outdoors here that he learned to paint from life and work spontaneously. To this day, he continues to divide his time between New York City and Lincolnville, Maine. It was in the 1950s, when American art had turned decisively away from representation and towards Abstract Expressionism that Katz developed his distinctive approach to modern Realism. His paintings comprised of subject matter from portraits and leisure scenes to simplified landscape motifs. These elegantly abstracted compositions that were rendered in bold colours and clean lines combined aspects of both Abstraction and Realism. Katz’s work in the 1960s drew from aspects of mid-century American society, media and commercial culture, including television, film and advertising. During this time, he also began making group portraits and painting in a more realistic style, which would continue to dominate work following decades. His paintings of friends, colleagues and family reveal a fascinating social history of New York’s intelligentsia. In the 1980s, Katz continued his concentration on portraiture, while taking his landscape in a new, larger direction. He developed his “enviromental” paintings, large nocturnal landscapes virtually devoid of colour and bordering on Abstract. Attracted to the possibilities of the contrast between light and dark, he also embarked on a series of urban nighttime paintings. Today, Katz is recognised as a seminal in American art and the development of Pop Art, with a celebrated body of work that includes paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints. He continues to paint productively, with three solo exhibitions opening in 2015, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the High Museum in Atlanta, and Colby Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine.