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Spanning more than thirty years, this selection of paintings by the American artist Alex Katz testifies to his extraordinarily fresh and vibrant engagement with the everyday.
The works in this display belong to a collection of international contemporary art jointly owned by Tate and National Galleries of Scotland. It is known as ARTIST ROOMS and focuses on individual rooms devoted to particular artists.
Katz frequently depicts his family, friends and familiar locations, so that his paintings convey a strong sense of the artist himself.
Personal experience has always been vital to Katz. Even as a student in 1940s, at the height of abstract expressionism, Katz drew strength from the visible world. Though based inNew York, he would also paint in rural Maineeach summer. By coincidence rather than by design, his cool representational style prefigured the emergence of American pop art in the 1960s. However, the world that Katz captured was always more personal than public, familial rather than popular.
His engagement with the visible - evident in the works that he has generously given to ARTIST ROOMS - continues to this day. Recently Katz spoke of the immediacy of his paintings, as well as their notable differences in size: ‘The small, initial sketches get me into a state of “the present tense”. And I try to develop this sense in the big paintings – to maintain that present tense feeling. It is something more common in music and singing, but not so much in painting. It’s really kind of impossible to achieve in painting, but that’s what I’m trying to do.’
Alex Katz was born in 1927 in Brooklyn, New York. He lives and works in New York City.
ARTIST ROOMS was established through The d’Offay Donation in 2008, with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, The Art Fund and the Scottish and British Governments, and is being shared with museums and galleries throughout the UK with additional generous support from The Art Fund and the Scottish Government.
Curated by Matthew Gale