Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1927 to Russian émigré parents, Alex Katz was raised in St. Albans, Queens and attended Woodrow Wilson High School, whose curriculum allowed him to divide his time between academics and the arts. Enrolling in The Cooper Union Art School in Manhattan in 1946, Katz studied painting under Morris Kantor. Through his coursework, he developed a deep understanding of Modern art theories and a toolbox of the movement’s techniques.
When he graduated in 1949, Katz received the first of two scholarships for summer study at the Skowhegan School for Painting and Sculpture in Maine, where he was encouraged to paint from life and which contributed to his lifelong practice. In 1954, his first one-person show was held at the Roko Gallery. Increasingly he became interested in portraiture and the use of monochrome backgrounds, both signatures of the painter’s subject matter and style, during the 1950s. Throughout the next several decades, he experimented with cropping his subjects, cut-outs, large-scale paintings, printmaking, and set design, among other genres. His subject matter has ranged from groups of people, fashion models in designer clothes, landscapes, and flowers.
Since 1951, Alex Katz has shown his work in more than 250 solo exhibitions and nearly 500 group exhibitions, most recently at Guggenheim Bilbao (2015), Serpentine Gallery, London (2016), The Cleveland Museum of Art (2017), Lotte Museum of Art, Seoul (2018), Tate Liverpool (2018), Museum Brandhorst, Munich (2018), Musee de L’Orangerie, Paris (2019), Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (2019) and the Fosun Foundation, Shanghai (2020). His work is part of over 100 public collections around the world and has received numerous honors. The Colby College Museum of Art’s Paul J. Schupf Wing for the Works of Alex Katz presents ongoing exhibitions of its in-depth collection of Katz’s paintings, cutouts, drawings, and prints.