About us
Artists Alex Katz
Alex Katz Photo

Alex Katz

American Draftsman and Painter

Movements and Styles: Pop Art, Contemporary Realism

Born: July 24, 1927 - Brooklyn, New York

Alex Katz Timeline

Quotes

"When you're working with the tradition of art, you're usually painting like the paintings you've seen; your vision is other people's vision. You see things through the culture in which you live, and the culture in which you live is always past tense. Some people are always seeing things in another time period. To see things in the present time period, you have to break through, and that's what I've been trying to do."
Alex Katz
"Part of what I'm about is seeing how I can paint the same thing differently instead of the different things the same way."
Alex Katz
"Painting does not need you. You have to need painting. Painting has to become you."
Alex Katz
"An older painter gave me some advice: 'Figuration is obsolete and color is French.' I said to myself, 'To you, baby." Actually, I had no idea whether what I was doing was going to find an audience, but my instincts told me there was no other way for me."
Alex Katz
"Painting seems an old man's business. After a certain time you're out of it, and you just paint masterpieces."
Alex Katz

"I can't think of anything more exciting than the surface of things. Just appearance."

Alex Katz Signature

Synopsis

Alex Katz is a New York based painter and printmaker, specializing in boldly simplified portraits and landscapes. Though influenced by American Scene artists as well as diverse elements of European and American modernism, he has avoided affiliation with any group or movement. To a great degree, Katz's distinction lies in the fascinating dialogue he developed between realism and more abstract tendencies in modernism. His heroically scaled landscapes and figural compositions recall Monet's late Water Lilies, Abstract Expressionist compositions, and roadside billboards. Rendered in bold and flat colors with sparing detail, his canvases create a double affirmation of the motif and the painted surface. His technique owes much to the crisp manner of commercial art and illustration, and this feature, along with his uncomplicated display of contemporary subjects, dovetails into Pop art. Much in the way Andy Warhol turned a Campbell's soup can into an instantly recognizable symbol, Katz transformed his circle of family and friends into visually arresting icons. His repeated return to subjects for which he has a fondness, such as his wife, pool-side bathers, and the quiet Maine landscape, encourages reception of his work as a blithesome celebration of the everyday in middle-class America.

Key Ideas

Katz claimed his art to be about "surface," which can be understood both in terms of his penchant for flat fields of color and clean lines, and also in the fact that his imagery is not particularly psychologically complex.
Katz's works bridge the gap between traditions of abstraction and figuration. For instance, his choice of monumental scale intensifies the lines, contours, colors, shapes, and his technique, such that those formal elements balance the figurative subject matter.

Biography

Alex Katz Photo

Childhood

Alex Katz was born in the Sheepshead Bay area of Brooklyn in 1927, and grew up in St. Albans, Queens. He began drawing at an early age with his father, a businessman, and knew that he wanted to study art exclusively by the time he attended Woodrow Wilson High School, which provided a program that allowed him to split the day between academics and the arts.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Alex Katz Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Alex Katz
Interactive chart with Alex Katz's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Georges BraqueGeorges Braque
Henri MatisseHenri Matisse
Jackson PollockJackson Pollock
Barnett NewmanBarnett Newman

Personal Contacts

Edwin DenbyEdwin Denby
Fairfield PorterFairfield Porter
Larry RiversLarry Rivers

Movements

Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
Post-Painterly AbstractionPost-Painterly Abstraction
Pop ArtPop Art

Influences on Artist
Alex Katz
Alex Katz
Years Worked: 1950 - present
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Peter DoigPeter Doig
Richard PrinceRichard Prince
Julian SchnabelJulian Schnabel

Personal Contacts

Chuck CloseChuck Close
Lucy LippardLucy Lippard

Movements

PhotorealismPhotorealism
Pop ArtPop Art

If you see an error or typo, please:
tell us
Cite this page

Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
Available from:
[Accessed ]