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About Alex KatzLaura 5Katz‘ portrait of Laura Halzack - prima ballerina of the Paul Taylor Dance Company in New York City - captivates with its breathtaking elegance as well as its interplay of color, surface, and form. Unusual for Katz is the deliberate reduction to black and white tones, as in photography. This means of expression, together with the intense gaze of the dancer in focus gives the work an
BACKGROUND INFORMATIONLaura 5
Katz‘ portrait of Laura Halzack - prima ballerina of the Paul Taylor Dance Company in New York City - captivates with its breathtaking elegance as well as its interplay of color, surface, and form. Unusual for Katz is the deliberate reduction to black and white tones, as in photography. This means of expression, together with the intense gaze of the dancer in focus gives the work an extraordinary aura and very lively presence. The image produces a moment of suspense, detached from the flow of movement yet filled with introspection. The dancer stands out amongst her surroundings and catches the viewer’s eye, while the dark background becomes the abstract sounding board for the portrait. The refined facial features, the proud posture, the dancer's distant gaze appear simultaneously iconic and human, reminiscent of a classic cinematic close-up.
- Stephan Reisner
About the Artist
Alex Katz (American, b.1927) is renowned for his figurative paintings, which examine the nature of representing the three-dimensional world on canvas in simplified portraits and landscapes. Katz was born in Brooklyn; he attended the Cooper Union School of Art in New York, and then studied art at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, ME. Amidst the height of Abstract Expressionism in the United States, Katz painted representational works, but in the 1950s, his quick, expressive brushstrokes represented the influence of artists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning on his work. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, his adherence to simplified forms and to careful studies of light, flatness, and color are particularly evident in his work. His allegiance to figuration and his embrace of the two-dimensional surface prefigured these features in Pop Art in the 1960s.
Katz also worked with collage, printmaking, and set design, increasingly concentrating on these media and developing freestanding sculptural collages through the 1970s. He later painted large-scale landscapes, developing “environments” in his works intended to envelop and immerse the viewer, and continues working with natural themes in his works today. Katz has held solo exhibitions at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, at the Jewish Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and at the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga in Spain, among other venues, and has received several honors for his work, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He currently lives and works in New York and Maine.
VITAAlex Katz was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1927. After earning a degree at the Cooper Union School of Art, he went on to advanced studies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. In addition to prominent exhibitions across the USA and Europe, his work has earned him numerous awards and accolades, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a St. Gaudens Medal in Art, a Cooper Union Professional Achievement Citation, and a Fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin.