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"Most important, for openers, work 6 hours a day, 7 days a week for 6 years. Then if you like it you can get serious about it." — Alex Katz
"Paint faster than you can think." — Alex Katz
Born in Brooklyn, NY in 1927. In 1928, at the outset of the Depression, his family moved to St. Albans, a diverse suburb of Queens that had sprung up between the two wars. Katz was raised in St. Albans by his Russian parents. His mother had been an actress and possessed a deep interest in poetry and his father, a businessman, also had an interest in the arts.... In 1946, Katz entered The Cooper Union Art School in Manhattan, a prestigious college of art, architecture, and engineering.
At The Cooper Union, Katz studied painting under Morris Kantor and was trained in Modern art theories and techniques. Upon graduating in 1949, Katz was awarded a scholarship for summer study at the Skowhegan School for Painting and Sculpture in Maine, a grant that he would renew the following summer. During his years at Cooper Union, Katz had been exposed primarily to modern art and was taught to paint from drawings. Skowhegan exposed him to painting from life, which would prove pivotal in his development as a painter and remains a staple of his practices today. Katz explains that Skowhegan’s plein air painting gave him “a reason to devote my life to painting.”
Katz’s first one-person show was held at the Roko Gallery in 1954. Katz had begun to develop greater acquaintances with the New York School and their allies in the other arts; he counted amongst his friends’ figurative painters Larry Rivers and Fairfield Porter, photographer Rudolph Burckhardt, and poets John Ashbery, Edwin Denby, Frank O’Hara, and James Schuyler. From 1955-59, usually following a day of painting, Katz made small collages of figures in landscapes from hand-colored strips of delicately cut paper. In the late 1950s, he moved towards greater realism in his paintings...