Alex Katz: Cool Painting

4 February – 29 May 2023

For the 95th birthday of Alex Katz, the ALBERTINA Museum presents a comprehensive tribute to this artist from the rich holdings of its collection: in 2022, the ALBERTINA Museum’s principal works by Katz had been lent out to the Guggenheim Museum and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid.

Alex Katz, born in New York in 1927, numbers among the most important exponents of US contemporary art. Large formats, broad brush strokes, vivid colors: these are the familiar Katz hallmarks. His concerns are color and composition. But why has Alex Katz’s oeuvre remained so unique to this day? In terms of formal aesthetics, we doubtless have Katz to thank for his rescue of hard-edge painting’s strictness for use in figurative painting. The sharp edged outlines of hard-edge and “radical flatness” had been viewed as painting’s terminal point: it was art that sought to depict pure abstraction and artificial motifs. In other words: art for the purest depiction of artificial motifs and forms, by no means suited to portraying motifs from the realm of banal reality. Alex Katz broke with this ideal, however, combining emotionally detached depictions of everyday reality with this supposedly incompatible way of painting taken from hard-edge.