Alex Katz: Portraits

In the 1950s, when the prominent style was Abstract Expressionism, Alex Katz made a radical artistic statement by choosing a more traditional subject: people. His “big face portraits,” as they were affectionately called at the time, were almost always larger than life in size, reflective of the monumental canvases beloved by his Abstract Expressionist peers. Katz’s early portraits also marked the beginning of the Pop art movement. Much like Andy Warhol, Katz found inspiration in mass media, borrowing the graphic aesthetic of the advertising world and the cinematic compositions of the film industry. Even his portraits of his wife Ada (of which there are over 200) reflect the Pop art obsession with celebrity. “When [Ada] was young she went to the movies and was very influenced,” Katz once explained. “All her …

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