This exhibition, mounted in celebration of gifts both donated and promised to the Met, gathers works by Alex Katz (American, born 1927), one of our era's most acclaimed artists. Acquired through the generosity of Glenn Fuhrman, Leonard A. Lauder, and Katz himself, these works—eight in total, including two loans—span nearly the entire arc of Katz's career and include drawings, prints, and paintings. Among the works are two cutouts, the innovative artistic device that Katz pioneered in the late 1950s; a haunting cityscape; several portraits of Ada, Katz's wife and long-time muse; and portraits of luminaries from Katz's own social and artistic circles.
Katz was born in Brooklyn in 1927 and came of age as an artist during the heyday of the New York School. In the late 1950s, he began to develop his mature style, one characterized by elegance, simplicity, and stylized abstraction. Committed to depicting recognizable motifs, Katz minimizes details and shading, choosing instead to summarize his subjects with the help of bold contours, blocks of color, and strategic swipes of the brush. As much as they represent a specific person or place, Katz's works also depict the act of seeing itself—that is, the peculiar mechanics of viewing, whether from afar or close up, whether on an empty street or across a crowded room. He captures the surprise and suspense, the desire and pleasure, that accompany the experience of spectatorship.