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July 24: Alex Katz

July 24, 2014

Alex Katz: Dark Brown Hat, 2002Alex Katz, who destroyed some thousand of his own works of art before finding his style in the 1950s — a figurative, cartoonish style that has been called a precursor to Pop Art — was born in Brooklyn on this date in 1927. His flat, mostly large-scale paintings are predominantly portraits and landscapes; his 1968 series, One Flight Up, consisted of more than thirty portraits of New York artists and intellectuals, on both sides of aluminum slivers shaped into silhouettes; his 1977 Times Square commission consisted of twenty-three portrait heads of women, each twenty feet high. He is also a prolific printmaker using a variety of techniques. Since 1951, Katz has had more than two hundred solo exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad. To visit his studio, look below.

“Taking cues from Cinemascope movies and billboards, his... deadpan evocation of flat, bright figures had an everyday quality that linked them to commercial art and popular culture.” —Cathleen McGuigan, Smithsonian Magazine