The painter Alex Katz is a curious figure in the annals of postwar American art. Throughout his fifty-year career, he’s been perpetually situated to the side of the art world’s mainstream, yet never so far to the side that he isn’t in the thick of things. A realist who came of age during an era predominated by abstraction—Abstract Expressionism to be exact—Katz has been linked with a number of artistic tendencies, such as Color Field painting, Pop Art, and realism—both “new” and the traditional. He’s found a congenial home in all of them. Yet the closest one can come to placing Katz is to note that he’s a key figure in the generation of painters—it includes Fairfield Porter, Larry Rivers, Nell Blaine, and Leland Bell—that pursued figurative art in the shadow of the New York School.

Even among this group of square pegs, however, Katz sticks out, a fact noted by the...

 

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