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ALEX KATZAmerican b. 1927

Mangel Gallery, Philadelphia
Collection of Mr. & Mrs. Irving Morris, Delaware, acquired in 1985
Private collection, Florida, acquired in the 1990s

ALEX KATZAmerican b. 1927

Alex Katz is a New York based American realist and Pop Artist known for both his paintings and prints. Born and raised in the boroughs of New York City, Katz studied fine art at Cooper Union Art School in Manhattan from 1946, followed by summer residencies at Skowhegan School for Painting and Sculpture in Maine. It was at Skowhegan that Katz was introduced to en plein air painting (literally meaning in the open air); a revelation that he claims was a pivotal development in his early career. The present work was likely painted in front of the motif and embodies Katz’s signature style of smooth, hard-edged shapes and large planes of color.

Katz prefers “cool” paintings, meaning images that are unemotional, impersonal and detached – an attribute he sees in the works of Edouard Manet. Maintaining his own unique style of painting is of paramount importance to the artist. As Irving Sandler wrote, “almost from the beginning of his career, Katz forged an individual style in the interface between representation and artifice, that is, by rendering appearances and painting flatly. Style would become his primary consideration. It was not something superficial, like stylization…but was found at the core of his being – the Katzness of Katz.” (Sandler, Alex Katz: A Retrospective, 1998, p. 59)

While Katz employed similar references to advertising (particularly billboards) and popular culture in his works, he was not considered a part of the core group of Pop artists and did not exhibit with the lynchpin figures like Lichtenstein and Warhol – he instead established his own style that ran parallel and can be considered a mixture of American Realist and Pop artist, among other things. Katz remains an important figure in the New York art scene and throughout his long career has been closely compared with many significant artists including Larry Rivers and Fairfield Porter, both of which were also close friends with Katz.

He has received a number of public commissions and accolades for his artworks including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy Museum, New York in 2007. He has exhibited widely in over 200 solo shows and 500 group exhibitions, his works are included in over 100 major permanent collections around the world. Since 1968 Katz has lived and worked in an artist’s cooperative building in Soho where he continues to produce artwork.