*24 July 1927 in Brooklyn (New York), U.S.
Alex Katz was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1927 as son of Russian emigrants. He studied at the Cooper Union in Manhattan and later received scholarships for two consecutive summer semesters at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, where he learned plein air painting. This proved to be decisive for his development as a painter and remains a key element of his practice until today.
In the 1950s his main interest was portraiture and he began to paint his friends, especially his wife and muse Ada. The monochrome backgrounds were a central feature of his very personal style, his highly stylized aesthetics between formalism and representation. These works made him a key figure in early Pop Art. In the following years, he frequently referred to the mass media and pictorial worlds of advertising, and painting was increasingly joined by Pop Art’s favorite medium – printmaking. A medium that the artist masters with virtuosity.
He took up a new theme in his work, fashion design, in the 1980s and later devoted himself primarily to large-format landscapes. Since 2010, Katz works with existing themes in new ways: “zoomed-in” portraits and sequences of several closely cropped pictures of the same motif. Even with the diversity of his oevre, he always remained true to his own unique style: the combination of coloured planes with precise motifs, the rather sculptural figures in contrast to the flatness of the backgrounds – an ambivalence that the artist deliberately applies.