I saw Matisse when I was really young. I thought the paintings were fantastic and I thought they were direct, but actually I didn’t realize how much he planned them. So I was going off making these terrible paintings, that were very direct. I destroyed a thousand paintings. What was important was that I got a great technique. After ten years my technique was really good. By 1959 I could really paint.”

Alex Katz is very urbane, very New York and yet his work resonates with collectors around the world. Here’s just a quick look at the galleries and museums where his work is being shown now:

  • The Museum Brandhorst in Munich, Germany through April 22, 2019.
  • The Daegu Art Museum in Daegu, South Korea through May 26, 2019.
  • The Ludwig Museum in Koblenz, Germany through April 30, 2019.
  • The Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, France through August, 2019.
  • The Tullie House Museum in Carlisle, England through June 16 2019.

and upcoming exhibits at:

  • Musee de l’Orangerie, Paris, France from May 14 – September 2, 2019.
  • Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, France from June 20 – July 30, 2019.
  • The Gavin Brown Gallery in New York from April 28 – August 8, 2019.

The exhibit at the Musee de l’Orangerie is focused on Katz’s Homage to Monet paintings. Katz’s recent work, a series of dancers painted as an homage to Degas, were shown at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., which has 89 of his paintings, prints and drawings in its collection, works that span much of the artist’s sixty-plus-year career.

Alex Katz: Nothing Fussy

After studying at Cooper Union from 1946-1949, Alex Katz received a scholarship to study at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, Maine, where he was required to do plein-air painting, something he had not done in New York. The experience led to Katz eventually getting a studio in Maine, where he works every summer.

The simplicity with which Katz paints his portraits is also the way in which he paints nature. During the 1950s, when the New York art scene was suffused with Abstract Expressionists, Katz was trying to keep his work clean and simple.

Katz said that, “by 1954, if you dripped it was really old fashioned.” He said that he didn’t want his work to be “fussy’ and wanted to paint in a straight forward way, directly on the canvas. “The technique,” Katz said, “came from a misunderstanding of Matisse. I saw Matisse when I was really young. I thought the paintings were fantastic and I thought they were direct, but actually I didn’t realize how much he planned them. So I was going off making these terrible paintings, that were very direct. I destroyed a thousand paintings. What was important was that I got a great technique. After ten years my technique was really good. By 1959 I could really paint.”

Katz prepares for his “simple” works with preliminary drawings and paintings. He is able to bring his simple technique to his landscapes and portraits.

Alex Katz at VFA

Spring Flowers, Black Dresses and Smiles are subjects that Alex Katz has taken on, in silkscreen, woodcut and sculpture.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Alex Katz available at VFA.

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