Alex Katz

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Alex Katz Biography

Known for his use of blunt figuration and flat, planar application of color and paint, Alex Katz’s works can be seen as both a reaction to, and visual respite from, the rise of Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s. Katz was born 14 July 1927 in New York City and he undertook formal training at both the Cooper Union School of Art and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. His initial practice involved using cutout figures primarily comprising painted figures on canvas glued to plywood, and he has maintained the aesthetic of these early works throughout his career. His most recognizable works are large-scale canvases painted with blunt, austere figures set against a monochrome background, omitting most, if not all, context. The occupants of his paintings are left seeming emotionless, and their severe, even graphic representation rejects any attempt at sentimental engagement. Ada, the artist’s wife of more than 60 years, is his muse and frequent subject of his work, appearing in numerous paintings by Katz since they wed in 1958.

Although Katz’s career overlapped largely with the height of Abstract Expressionism, he openly rejected the tenets of the movement, going as far as to say, “We compete for audiences, as artists. I’m competing with the Abstract Expressionist guys. I’ll knock ’em off the wall.” And compete he has: Katz had his first solo exhibition at Roko Gallery in New York City in 1954, and in 1986 the Whitney Museum of American Art held his first retrospective. Today, Katz’s work is recognized worldwide, but his popularity is most apparent within the United States, and is held in many of the country’s largest and well known collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the National Gallery, Washington, DC; and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Alex Katz Exhibitions

Since 1951, Katz's work has been the subject of more than 200 solo exhibitions and nearly 500 group exhibitions throughout the United States and internationally.[3] Katz' first one- person show was an exhibition of paintings at the Roko Gallery in New York in 1954. In 1974 the Whitney Museum of American Art showed Alex Katz Prints, followed by a traveling retrospective exhibition of paintings and cutouts titled Alex Katz in 1986. The subject of over 200 solo exhibitions and nearly 500 group shows internationally, Katz has since been honored with numerous retrospectives at museums including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Jewish Museum, New York; the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Colby College Museum of Art, Maine; Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden; Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venice; Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga; and the Saatchi Gallery, London (1998).[38] In 1998, a survey of Katz' landscape paintings was shown at the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, featuring nearly 40 pared-down paintings of urban or pastoral motifs.

Katz is represented by Gavin Brown's Enterprise in New York, Timothy Taylor Gallery in London, and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in Paris/Salzburg. Before showing with Brown, he had been represented by Pace Gallery for 10 years and by Marlborough Gallery for 30 years. The prints of Alex Katz are distributed in Europe by Galerie Frank Fluegel in Nuremberg. A retrospective of his work is currently (June - October 2022) on display at the Thyssen National Museum of Spain, the first time Katz ́s work has been displayed in that country.

Alex katz in Collections

Katz's work is in the collections of over 100 public institutions worldwide, including theHonolulu Museum of Art; theMuseum of Modern Art, New York; theMetropolitan Museum of Art, New York; theWhitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; theArt Institute of Chicago; theCleveland Museum of Art; theTate Gallery, London; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tokyo; the Nationalgalerie, Berlin; and the Museum Brandhorst, Munich.[41] In 2010, Anthony d'Offay donated a group of works by Katz to the National Galleries of Scotland and the Tate; they are shown as part of the national

touring programme, Artist Rooms. In 2011, Katz donated Rush (1971), a series of 37 painted life-size cutout heads on aluminum, to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the piece is

installed, frieze-like, in its own space