Alex Katz 1927 –
Alex Katz turns 94 on July 24, 2021. He has worked as an artist for more than seventy of those 94 years. Tough and independent, Katz ignored Abstract Expressionism, Color Field Painting, Op Art, Pop Art and other art movements during his career. Instead, he concentrated on portraits, landscapes and figurative paintings in bold, flat colors. He took some heat from critics in America, but gained much recognition abroad.
“I never paid attention to what people said,” he stated in a recent interview in Galerie magazine. “I knew I would always work out what I wanted to do. My style was ahead of the public and certainly of the institutions. They were never on the same page with me. Curators followed what they read in art history books, which are out of date. Most art history by the time you read it is out of date.”
Recent Acquisitions at VFA
Not all critics were unkind to Katz. American art critic, Carter Ratcliff, was very supportive and has even written an essay about the artist in the recently published comprehensive book, Alex Katz, available at VFA.
The book includes a fine art print of Ada, Katz’s wife, the focus of many of his paintings. “It is not necessarily wrong to say that Ada is Alex’s muse,” Ratcliff wrote in the book. “yet it sheds a clearer light on their world to say that she has been one of the most constantly present actor, the abiding heroine, in a repertory theater with a large, and frequently changing cast. She is the calm center of the ideal world Alex Katz has invented. Because it is also a real world, the one where he and Ada live, he never idealizes her; nor is there any reason for him to do so. Her varied expressions and unusually wide smile are patently her own.”
The book was edited by Katz’s son, Vincent, a poet and translator, who has BA from the University of Chicago and an MA from Oxford University.Vincent also appears in many of Katz’s works.
In the last two years, Katz’s paintings have set auction records, going for above the high estimates. In 2019, Blue Umbrella I done in 1972, sold at Phillips Auction House in London for £3,375,000 or the equivalent of 4.1 million US dollars. Last year, The Red Band, a painting of Ada done in 1978, sold at Sotheby’s New York for $3.1 million. Both are paintings of Ada.
Another recent VFA acquisition is a Vivien with Hat, done in 2020. Vivien with Hat is a fine art etching, on innova paper that gives it a unique textural quality.
Katz spent much of the pandemic painting flowers. His fine art flower prints are a favorite of ours at VFA, so much so, that we chose one of his works for the cover of our ebook, How to Indentify & Buy Fine Art Prints.
Alex Katz is currently preparing for a 2022 retrospective at the Guggenheim in New York and upcoming solo exhibitions in Chicago, Paris, the Netherlands, Spain and Austria.
Please contact us if you would like more information about the prints, paintings and sculpture of Alex Katz, available at VFA and to download a copy of our free ebook, How to Identify & Buy Fine Art Prints.
Lucy Rees. Looking Back at Alex Katz’s Remarkable Seven-Decade Career. Galerie Magazine. December 22, 2020.