Alex Katz is a leading figure painter of the new realism movement in contemporary art. He is best known for his realistic portraits of friends and family, notable for their relaxed attitudes and uncomplicated bearing.
Katz's prints, despite their clean lines and immaculate surface, are unexpectedly spontaneous. Katz has a certain readiness to enlarge, fragment and edit his celebrated subjects; his work is characterized by scale, by space, by color and by simplification.
Ada with sunglasses
Katz was born in New York City, and studied art at the Cooper Union from 1945 to 1949. In the late 1950s, he found himself among a growing number of artists dissatisfied with the then-dominant stream of abstract expressionism, with its emphasis on formal abstraction.
In contrast to the pop artists, with their emphasis on the consumer icon, a number of painters in the mid-to-late 1 950s, including Larry Rivers and Alex Katz, had begun to find their own inspiration. In the literal rendition of human figures.
Katz's paintings from the late 1950s to the present have been characterized by such literal, yet expressive, portrayals of human figures. Stylistically, his figures are simplified in form, but not caricatured or rendered grotesque. On the contrary, one of the hallmarks of Katz's figures is their apparent normalcy.
His paintings have been highly influential to the development and popularization of the new realism as a discrete movement in contemporary art. He achieved great public prominence in the 1980s.