“I like to make an image that is so simple you can’t avoid it, and so complicated you can’t figure it out.”
Alex Katz (Brooklyn, New York, 1927) is an American painter and printmaker best known for his large-scale portraits and landscapes. The artist studied at the Cooper Union in New York and then the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, Maine. The latter experience instilled in Katz the importance of drawing from life, integral to his practice. Inspired by Japanese woodcuts, his works are characterized by flatness, bright color, and the sense of emotional detachment. Initially, Katz primarily focused on portraits with monochrome backgrounds, with over 250 made of his wife alone. He later created group portraits, portraying his circle of friends, including painters, poets, and critics. Katz also painted dancers and fashion models in designer clothing. In the late 20th century, he shifted his focus to large landscapes he referred to as “environmental,” which are more painterly than his earlier work. More recently, he has begun using his iPhone to take pictures that he bases paintings on. A prolific printmaker, he has also created lithographs, etchings, silkscreens, woodcuts. and linoleum cuts. He is heralded as a precursor to the Pop movement and for his unique style that bridges abstraction and representation.