Self-Portrait with Sunglasses (Primary Title)

Alex Katz, American, born 1927 (Artist)

oil on canvas
United States
Overall: 96 × 68 in. (243.84 × 172.72 cm)
Not on view

Style and appearance are the things I’m more concerned about than what something means. I’d like to have style take the place of content, or the style be the content. —Alex Katz

Katz was one of the first artists to return to figurative painting following Abstract art’s dominance at midcentury. Katz’s simplification of forms and elimination of detail relates to hard-edged Color-Field painting and to Pop Art’s emulation of commercial graphics—two early 1960s styles that influenced him.

Katz began concentrating on casual portraiture of family and friends in the late 1950s. Self-portraits appear periodically throughout his career. Here he extends his familiar methods of drastic cropping and sharp juxtapositions of scale to create a particularly imposing image. Never one to dwell on inner psychology, Katz further denies access to his interior here with sporty dark glasses, which, along with long sideburns, link the image to its time. The changing quality of light—strong contrasts of sun and shade across the face and reflections in the lenses—further shows Katz’s interest in the specific moment.

Gift of Sydney and Frances Lewis
Alex Katz: The Sixties, Pace Wildenstein, New York, NY, April 27 – June 17, 2006

Making Faces: Self-Portraits by Alex Katz, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, May 5 – July 14, 1990; Newark Museum, Newark, NJ, August 11 – September 22, 1990; JB Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY, November 1 – December 16, 1990

The Mysterious Suspicion: After Magritte, Bedford Gallery, Longwood College, Farmville, VA, January 17 – February 19, 1988

Contemporary Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Muscarelle Museum, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA, September 30 – November 15, 1987

Alex Katz, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, March 12 – June 15, 1986; Center for Fine Arts, Miami, FL, September 14 – November 9, 1986

Alex Katz: Process and Development: Small Paintings from the Collection of the Paul J. Schupf '58, Picker Art Gallery, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY, September 10 - November 4, 1984

Alex Katz in the Seventies, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, May 27 - July 9, 1978

Alex Katz, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, January 7 – February 7, 1971; The Art Gallery, University of California at San Diego, San Diego, CA, February 22 – April 14, 1971; Minnesota Museum of Art, St. Paul, MN, July 16 – October 3, 1971; Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT, November 10 – December 31, 1971
(Marlborough Gallery, New York). Mr. and Mrs. Robert Mayer, Chicago. (Pace/Hoffeld Gallery, New York) by 1981; Purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Sydney and Frances Lewis in January of 1981; Gift to Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia in December of 1985.
©artist or artist’s estate

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