Alex Katz

Life Dates:
Artist Biography:
During the 1950s, when abstraction was the dominant theme in American art, Alex Katz insisted on painting representational subjects drawn from firsthand observation. Portraits in particular figure prominently in Katz’s oeuvre, especially after 1960. Like his contemporaries Ellsworth Kelly and Frank Stella, Katz created art that was clear, reductive, and unambiguous in an attempt to minimize emotion. For inspiration he turned to mass media, especially advertising and cinema, for devices that would enhance his work’s clarity, impact, and impersonality. In composition and aesthetic, the prints of June Ekman’s Class exemplify these ideals, with their narrow format and frank linear properties enhanced by aquatint. Like advertising images, the portraits are often cropped at the forehead or jawline, making the faces appear massive despite their modest size.