A new portrait of Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief of American VOGUE, by artist Alex Katz will be on display for the first time at the National Portrait Gallery
in May 2010. The new portrait of Wintour will be accompanied by the display "Alex Katz: Portraits" from 15 May - 21 September 2010. One of the most significant artists of his generation, this will also be the first time that there has been a display at the Gallery dedicated to the work of Alex Katz.
In this new portrait Anna Wintour is depicted without her signature sunglasses against a yellow background, a new departure for Alex Katz. Completed in late 2009, Wintour visited Katz in his New York studio where he worked on studies from life for the final painting. This was the first time that Wintour had sat for a painting, and the decision to paint her without her sunglasses came after Katz observed her in The September Issue and noticed she had "lovely eyes". He says: "Painting Anna was like shooting a fish in a barrel. There was no way I could miss it."
The centrepiece of the display Alex Katz Portraits will be a group portrait of the New York intelligentsia at a cocktail party, One Flight Up, 1968. The piece consists of thirty subjects seen in two-dimensions presented as aluminium painted cut-outs on a freestanding platform. The second room of the display will focus on a closely hung group of portraits of Katz's friends and family, including a portrait of his wife and life-long muse, Ada. The works on display will demonstrate the variety the artist has brought to the portrait with dramatic variations in scale and the abrupt cinematic cropping of images painted using precise broad areas of colour.
Alex Katz Portraits marks the second in the series of displays in the Contemporary Galleries to focus on an artist of international standing exploring the portrait genre. Born in Brooklyn in 1927, Katz is one of America's most well-respected and influential senior artists. Katz emerged on the New York art scene during the heyday of Abstract Expressionism and before the birth of Pop art, but he has always worked independently of these movements. He is best known as a painter of people and the subjects of his portraits are the people at the centre of his cultural life. The display at the National Portrait Gallery follows the exhibition, Alex Katz, featuring recent portraits of the artist's friends and family from 4 March - 9 April 2010 at Timothy Taylor Gallery, London. (www.timothytaylorgallery.com).
Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: "This is a wonderfully stylish portrait of a powerful force in the international world of fashion. Alex Katz captures an essence of Anna Wintour on a grand scale."
Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief of American VOGUE says: "I couldn't think of a nicer way to spend the afternoon. We talked for two hours while he worked, and I was pleased to see that he used a lot of colour, which I adore."
ALEX KATZ PORTRAITS will run from 15 May - 21 September 2010, in Rooms 41 and 41a in the Contemporary Collections in the Lerner Galleries of the National Portrait Gallery, London.