Alex Katz


“Part of what I'm about is seeing how I can paint the same thing differently instead of different things the same way.”

Alex Katz


Alex Katz (1927)

Alex Katz is one of the most important American painters and graphic artists to have emerged since 1950. Throughout his career, which now spans more than fifty years, Katz has produced a remarkable and impressive body of work that constitutes a unique aspect of modern realism.

In the words of Richard Marshall, Associate Curator of Exhibitions of the Whitney Museum of American Art: "Portraits have been the mainstay of Katz's paintings since the late 1950's - especially of his wife, Ada, son, Vincent, and a circle of friends composed of artists, poets, critics and dancers. Katz's portraits form a new and distinctive type of realism in American art which combines aspects of both abstraction and representation. His work is characterized by flatly painted, dramatically cropped, oversize heads that recall movies, advertising and billboards. Katz's concern is not with an emotional narrative, but with the style of portraiture - with giving the traditional genre to posed portraits an expansive, contemporary look."

At 82, the pathbreaking painter known for stylized figurative works has never been in more demand. Today, Katz's popularity is exploding. His quintessentially American evocations of people at cocktail parties or the beach and his landscapes of Maine took off in Europe, especially after the collector Charles Saatchi showed off his Katzes in his private museum in London a decade ago. The painter has also found a substantial new audience at home in the United States. As figurative painting made a comeback in the late '80s and '90s, a younger generation of artists began to see Katz with new appreciation. "Artists were looking at their predecessors, but there were not a lot of them who'd continued in that figurative zone consistently, with his level of detachment," says Adam Weinberg, the director of the Whitney Museum.  “Coolness is something that artists of all generations admire—cool in the sense of detachment, but [also] cool in the sense of hip."


Museum of Modern Art, New York
Fine Arts Museums, San Francisco
Art Institute of Chicago
Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC
New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana
The Tate Gallery, London
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.

The artist lives and works in New York.