A Collector’s Guide to Alex Katz
Five things to know about the Pop Art pioneer whose work has been the subject of over 200 solo exhibitions.
Works featured on offer in West Chelsea Contemporary’s upcoming exhibition: ICONS & VANDALS. MAY 15-JUL 11
Alex Katz is an American figurative artist known for his paintings, sculptures, and prints. Born July 24, 1927, to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York, as the son of an émigré who had lost a factory he owned in Russia to the Soviet revolution. In 1928 the family moved to St. Albans, Queens, where Katz grew up.
Read on below to discover five things every art collector should know about Alex Katz.
- Katz got his start at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. From 1949 to 1950 he studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. Skowhegan exposed him to painting from life, which would prove pivotal in his development as a painter and 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.”
- His wife was his muse. Katz was inspired by He met Ada Del Moro, who had studied biology at New York University, at a gallery opening in 1957. Ada Katz also helped with management of his studio as well as being Katz’s muse. She has been the subject in over 1000 works by him.
- Katz’s work is painstakingly intentional. In order to find his personal style, Katz has admitted to destroying a thousand paintings during his first ten years as a painter. His works seem simple, but according to Katz they are more reductive, which is fitting to his personality. His large paintings, whose bold simplicity and heightened colors are now seen as precursors to Pop Art.
- Katz’s relationship with Northeastern American landscapes have greatly informed his work. Every year from early June to mid-September, Katz moves from his SoHo loft to a 19th-century clapboard farmhouse in Lincolnville, Maine which help divide his work into the genres of portraiture and landscape. Since the 1960s he has painted views of New York (especially his immediate surroundings in Soho) and landscapes of Maine, where he spends several months every year, as well as portraits of family members, artists, writers and New York society protagonists. His paintings are defined by their flatness of colour and form, their economy of line, and their cool but seductive emotional detachment. A key source of inspiration is the woodcuts produced by Japanese artist Kitagawa Utamaro.
- Katz’s work is in the collections of over 100 public institutions worldwide. His work has been shown in the Honolulu Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Tate Gallery, London; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tokyo; the Nationalgalerie, Berlin; and the Museum Brandhorst, Munich.
West Chelsea Contemporary’s nearly 8,000 square-foot gallery offers the opportunity to highlight work on a monumental scale. From 16-foot originals by RETNA and Cey Adams to colossal sculptural work—including a larger than life mixed media shark and painted aluminum spaceman—the gallery is activated by art world giant’s not only in a metaphorical sense.
By contemplating ground-breaking movements from the past six decades, Icons & Vandals allows viewers to rediscover and redefine the art world’s most iconic and contentious house-hold names.These artists have left their mark on the development and progression of contemporary art by subverting the norms of their own time. Through this show it becomes clear that these two labels are not mutually exclusive but in fact ingrained in their interconnectedness.
Works from ICONS & VANDALS will be on display and for sale at West Chelsea Contemporary in beginning May 15.
Reach out today to inquire or acquire.