Alex Katz, Sandra 2, 1986
© Alex Katz / Adagp, Paris, 2019
© Fondation Louis Vuitton / Marc Domage
Portraiture has been Alex Katz’s preferred genre since his first paintings in the late 1950s, at a time when the North American art world was dominated by abstraction.
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.