Alex Katz, 1987
Acrylic on linen, 60” x 30”
Alex Katz is one of the most significant painters of our time, having been the subject of approximately 200 international solo exhibitions. Katz’s portraits are said to be both psychologically complex and emotionally ambivalent. Rob Storr, formerly of the Museum of Modern Art and currently on the faculty of Yale Art Department, says that Alex Katz, possesses a quality that can only be defined as unquantifiable “cool.” The crisp, sharp, but cool quality of his work, is itself a portrait of the artist. Katz was inspired by Abstract Expressionism and though he was originally an Abstract Expressionist himself, he would break away from the pack and distinguish himself as a representational artist. Often he based his work on photographs. But he also worked from life in his portraits and his landscapes. His favorite subject has always been and is still, his wife Ada. He has painted portraits of Ada for over 50 years.
In 1984, I looked up Alex Katz in the phone book and called him and asked him if I could paint him. He said yes. On a cold snowy day I went to Soho and he posed for me in his studio. When I was leaving, I turned and asked him, why did he say yes and he said because I was a southerner. It seems that southerners sometimes remind him of Italians, which in turn reminds him of his wife Ada. For whatever reason, he said yes and I will always be grateful. I am equally grateful that he recently agreed to 'sit' again, 27 years later, and you can view that painting here..