About this artwork
Katz explores the boundaries between abstract, flat surface and expressive realism in this simple, decorative subject. He has been painting flowers since the 1960s, often painted during summer residencies in Maine. The cropped, flattened composition owes a debt to Japanese art. Katz is well-known for his large paintings, whose bold simplicity and unmodulated colours are now seen as precursors of Pop Art. Small oil paintings such as this one are sketched from life and often intended to be scaled up into larger works, but their economic execution and visible brushstrokes reveal an intimate side to his practice. He says, "A sketch is very direct. It is working empirically, inside of an idea."
- title: Pansies
- accession number: AR00001
- artist: Alex KatzAmerican (born 1927)
- gallery: In Storage
- object type: Painting
- subject: Beauty
- materials: Oil paint on hardboard
- date created: 1967
- measurements: 30.90 x 40.60 x 4.00 cm (framed: 32.30 x 42.40 x 3.40 cm)
- credit line: ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008
- copyright: © Alex Katz
- photographer: Antonia Reeve
Brooklyn born Katz emerged as a figurative artist when abstract expressionism was the reigning style. He studied at Cooper Union School of Art, New York, from 1946-9, before completing a scholarship in Skowhegen, Maine. While Katz has experimented with collage and printmaking, it is for his distinctive painting style, which pre-empted the birth of Pop Art, that he is best known. Primarily working from life, he produces images in which line and form are expressed through carefully composed strokes and planes of flat colour. He predominantly paints landscapes, portraits and figure compositions. Although he has continued to make small paintings as studies, from the 1960s his work grew in size to a scale more associated with abstract expressionism than realist painting.