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Place(s) of work: New York (us)
Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1927, Alex Katz studied painting at Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art from and then at the Skowhegan School for Painting and Sculpture in Maine, where he was exposed to painting from life, which remains a staple of his practices today. Katz explains that Skowhegan’s "plein-air" painting gave him “a reason to devote my life to painting”.
During the 1950s, Katz associated with artists of the New York School and their allies in the other arts counting amongst his friends figurative painters Larry Rivers and Fairfield Porter, photographer Rudolph Burckhardt, and poets John Ashbery and Frank O'Hara. He experimented with small collages of figures in landscapes made from hand colored strips of cut paper eventually moving toward greater realism in his paintings and developing a greater interest in portraiture. Usually these portraits would be of his friends and his wife and muse, Ada. It was also during this time that he embraced flatness, which would become a defining characteristic of his art, anticipating Pop Art and separating him from gestural figure painters of the New Perceptual Realism movement.
In the 1960s, Katz became influenced by films, television, and billboard advertising and began to paint large-scale works often with dramatically cropped faces. In 1965, he also embarked on a prolific career in printmaking. Katz would go on to produce many editions in lithography, etching, silkscreen, woodcut and linoleum cut. In the late 1980s and 1990s, Katz focused much of his attention on large landscape paintings, which he characterizes as “environmental.” In recent years, Katz also began painting flowers in profusion, covering canvases in blossoms similar to those he had first explored in the late 1960s, when he painted large close-ups of flowers in solitude or in small clusters.
Watch Alex Katz discuss his work [via American Art Museum]:(read less)
Techniques & Media: Drawing, Painting, Print, Sculpture
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