Alex Katz
American figurative artist



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Alex Katz
American figurative artist
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Birth Date

July 24, 1927

Place of Birth

United States of America, New York, New York City

Arty Fact

More about Alex Katz

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Alex Katz has been called the “art-world David Lynch,” and indeed there’s something kind of supernatural about his life.

He had his first solo show in 1954 which is probably before your parents were born. Wait, let’s back up. Alex Katz is a living painter based in New York. LIVING. Not only alive, he paints seven days a week and still looks like a friendlier version of a middle-aged Picasso; except that he was born in the same year as the first transatlantic telephone call, 1927. Acquaintances say he takes daily baths in the fountain of youth, but actually he just swims two miles every morning.

Formidable as his health is, just being in the same room as a Matisse painting nearly made him faint. That is Katz’s dichotomy: street-forged tough, yet soft and sweet.

He’s a born and raised New Yorker. His art education was split between Manhattan’s Cooper Union and summers in rural Maine at Skowhegan (you know, summer the verb). He idolizes his Russian immigrant dad as a wild man who would jump off bridges, dress well, and race motorcycles. But Katz mostly inherited his dad’s coping mechanisms. “My father was very competitive with all males. And he passed me his insecurities. That’s part of it. You are not competitive unless you are insecure.” Of course, being old, most of his competitors are dead.

But he’s still competitive about how his wife stacks up against the muses of other artists, particularly Picasso’s famous model/over Dora Maar. “They both have great faces. But Ada has a much better neck and shoulders. Picasso faked them [in his paintings]…he cheated on the shoulders.” Simultaneously misogynistic and kind of cute...classic New Yorker. And he isn’t just sweet nothings, he’s painted Ada more than 200 times.

Katz’s insecurities about his art aren’t entirely unmerited, his work was described as having the substance of a “toothpaste ad.” Of course twenty years later Warhol was basically reprinting ads as art and being hailed for it, but Katz isn’t bitter; he knew what he wanted to paint. People told him he couldn’t paint from photographs, he said “You mean I can, but you can’t paint from photographs.” That DGAF attitude has delivered him from most of his insecurities about art. “My work is not expressionist, very little passion. And I don’t really care at this point.” So inspiring. 




  1. “Alex Katz: Narrative Bio.” Alex Katz. Accessed November 14, 2017.
  2. White, Roger. “Artseen: Alex Katz.” The Brooklyn Rail, July 10, 2006. Online. Accessed November 14, 2017.
  3. Katz, Alex interviewed by David Salle. March 4, 2014. “In Conversation: ALEX KATZ with David Salle.” The Brooklyn Rail. Accessed November 14, 2017.
  4. Katz, Alex interviewed by Phong Bui. May 7, 2009. “In Conversation: Alex Katz with Phong Bui.” The Brooklyn Rail. Accessed November 14, 2017.
  5. Glueck, Grace. March 2, 1986. “Alex Katz Painting in the High Style.” The New York Times. Accessed November 14, 2017.
  6. Sooke, Alastair. May 15, 2016. “Alex Katz: ‘Warhol ripped me off.’” The Telegraph. Accessed November 14, 2017.
  7. “Speeches and Audio: First Transatlantic Telephone Call.” History. A E Networks, 2017. Accessed November 14, 2017.

Featured Content

Here is what Wikipedia says about Alex Katz

Alex Katz (born July 24, 1927), is an American figurative artist known for his paintings, sculptures, and prints. He is represented by numerous galleries internationally.

Early life and career

Alex Katz was 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.

From 1946 to 1949 Katz studied at The Cooper Union in New York, and from 1949 to 1950 he studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, 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." Every year from early June to mid-September, Katz moves from his SoHo loft to a 19th-century clapboard farmhouse in Lincolnville, Maine. A summer resident of Lincolnville since 1954, he has developed a close relationship with local Colby College. From 1954 to 1960, he made a number of small collages of still lifes, Maine landscapes, and small figures. He met Ada Del Moro, who had studied biology at New York University, at a gallery opening in 1957. In 1960, Katz had his first (and only) son, Vincent Katz. Vincent Katz had two sons, Isaac and Oliver, who have been the subjects of Katz's paintings.

Katz has admitted to destroying a thousand paintings during his first ten years as a painter in order to find his style. Since the 1950s, he worked to create art more freely in the sense that he tried to paint "faster than [he] can think." His works seem simple, but according to Katz they are more reductive, which is fitting to his personality. "(The) one thing I don't want to do is things already done. As for particular subject matter, I don't like narratives, basically."

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Alex Katz.