Artist biography

American painter, sculptor and printmaker. He studied (1946–50) in New York and in Skowhegan, ME. In the early 1950s he was influenced by the work of Abstract Expressionists and produced swiftly executed pictures of trees as well as various works based on photographs. In the mid 1950s he painted spare, brightly coloured works of landscape, interiors and figures and produced simplified images in collage. These early works emphasised the flatness of the picture plane while remaining representational, and this insistence on figuration placed him outside the contemporary avant-garde mainstream, in which abstraction and chance were key qualities. He developed his style in the portrait works of ordinary people from the late 1950s. This resolution of the demands of formalism and representation looked forward to the Pop art of the following decade. In the 1960s Katz's works became more realistic and were executed in a smoother, more impersonal style. Though concentrating on figures in interiors and in urban environments, he also painted a number of landscape and flower pieces. After experimenting with the technique in the late 1950s, from the mid 1960s he made a number of free-standing cut-out figure works painted on wood or aluminium. Similarly, after early forays in the 1950s, Katz concentrated more on printmaking in the 1960s, making very simplified lithographs and screenprints. After the 1960s he continued producing similar figure paintings as well as prints. He achieved great public prominence in the 1980s, and among the works of that decade were a number of multi-panel paintings.

I. Sandler: Alex Katz (New York, 1979)
N. P. Maravell: Alex Katz: The Complete Prints (New York and London, 1983)
Alex Katz (exh. cat. by R. Marshall and R. Rosenblum, New York, Whitney, 1986)

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