Alex Katz

BIOGRAPHY

Alex Katz was born in 1927, Brooklyn, NY, to a Russian businessman who lost everything in the Russian Revolution. In 1946-49, while studying at the Skowhegan School of Painting in Maine, he learned to simply paint subjects that surrounded him, both landscape and people. This proved pivotal in his developing his subject style and with his use of bold simplicity and flat colors, his work became a precursor to the Pop Art movement.


Katz has admitted to destroying a thousand paintings in order to assist him in finding his personal style. He refers to his work as reductive, rather than simple.


In the 50’s, inspired by Japanese woodcut artist Kitagawa Utamaro, he developed a technique of painting wood panels, later aluminum, calling them ‘cutouts’. His body of work consists of equal pieces of landscape versus portraits. Many of his portraits were of NY’s leading intelligentsia of the day.


In 1977, Katz was asked to create a huge public piece to be located at 42nd St. and 7th Ave. in NY. This piece consisted of a frieze composed of 23 portrait heads of women, each 20 feet high, extending 247 feet along two sides of the RKO building. Public commissions of large scale soon became signature works of his. Katz achieved great public prominence in the 1980’s..


Katz has been commissioned for pieces all over the world and has received countless prestigious awards as well as being a major influence to a large body of artists.