In the early 1960s, Alex Katz was influenced by films, television, fashion and billboard advertising, he began painting large-scale paintings, often with dramatically cropped faces. In 1965, he also embarked on a prolific career in printmaking. Katz considers himself “pre-pop” art and does not intend for his works to have deeper meaning, to be analyzed, there is not subtext. He paints from real-life, the immediate present, a “snap shot” of a moment in time, an optical flash. Katz would go on to produce many editions in lithography, etching, silkscreen, woodcut and linoleum cut. After 1964, Katz increasingly portrayed groups of figures. He would continue painting these complex groups into the 1970s, portraying the social world of painters, poets, critics, and other colleagues that surrounded him. He began designing sets and costumes for choreographer Paul Taylor in the early 1960s, and he has painted many images of dancers throughout the years. In the 1980s, Katz took on a new subject in his work: fashion models in designer clothing.
In the late 1980s and 1990s, Katz focused much of his attention on large landscape paintings, which he characterizes as “environmental.” Rather than observing a scene from afar, the viewer feels enveloped by nearby nature. Katz began each of these canvases with “an idea of the landscape, a conception,” trying to find the image in nature afterwards. In his landscape paintings, Katz loosened the edges of the forms, executing the works with greater painterliness than before in these allover canvases. In 1986, Katz began painting a series of night pictures—a sharp departure from the sunlit landscapes he had previously painted, forcing him to explore a new type of light. Variations on the theme of light falling through branches appear in Katz’s work throughout the 1990s and into the 21st century. At the beginning of the new millennium, Katz’s work continues to grow and evolve today.
Alex Katz’s work has been the subject of more than 200 solo exhibitions and nearly 500 group exhibitions internationally since 1951. His works can be found in over 100 public collections worldwide, including The Whitney Museum, MoMA, NYC, the Smithsonian, Washington DC, the Tate Gallery, London, the Art Institute of Chicago among others.