Sandra 2

  • 1986
  • Alex Katz
  • Oil on linen
  • 162.6 x 121.9 x 0.0 cm

At the time, Katz was looking to Manet, Degas and Beckmann. But it was Matisse who remained his key reference. Sandra 2 is a lesson in light and colour: the way the sunlight sweeps across the model’s chest, the way the colours are combined around the figure. The background is highlighted by several details including a patch of yellow, which also evokes the sun. "The difference between my art and other artists, especially those who work in a realist or descriptive manner, lies in the fact that I'm a colourist," says Katz. Like several of his large portraits, the canvas is not without a cinematographic quality, due to its composition (a close-up against a landscape) and its size, like a projected character, larger than life.

© Alex Katz / Adagp, Paris, 2019 © Fondation Louis Vuitton / Marc Domage


Alex Katz

The work of Alex Katz is readily associated with Pop Art, both for its realism and choice of subjects, yet it differs significantly. The apparent simplicity of his pieces reflects a distant Matissian heritage, while simultaneously remaining indissociable from the history of American painting.

In the early 1960s, the monumental size of his paintings, depicting tightly-framed subjects, evoked a billboard-like aesthetic. Known for his landscapes and portraits of women, Katz primarily paints his entourage; his wife, Ada, is depicted in more than 250 portraits. A feeling of tranquility and the representation of an idealized American way of life emerge by way of a meticulous, multi-stage process. Oil sketches from life are followed by drawings in pencil or charcoal transferred to a canvas, which is then painted in a single workshop session. Katz calls his large-format landscapes created in Maine “environmental paintings.” Using diluted materials that seem to extend beyond the frame, he captures sunlight and foliage in Black Brook 18 and Figure in the Woods. For more than twenty years, Katz painted the same river, Black Brook, near his Lincolnville studio/house every summer. In this series, which includes pieces ranging from small to massive formats, he captures the landscape’s reflection on the surface of the water without clearly distinguishing what is represented.

Read more

In the same hang