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First painted portrait of American Vogue's Anna Wintour acquired by the National Portrait Gallery
Anna (Anna Wintour), 2009 by Alex Katz. ©Alex Katz, DACS, London/VAGA, New York 2011 purchased with help from the Art Fund.

LONDON.- The National Portrait Gallery, has acquired American artist Alex Katz’s bold portrait of Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief of American VOGUE. The painting, which was unveiled at the Gallery in 2010, is the first painted portrait of British-born Wintour. It is also the first work by influential American artist Katz to enter the Gallery’s Collection. The portrait will be on show from 13 September to coincide with London Fashion Week.

Anna has been acquired for a special net price of £125,000, purchased with help in the form of a £45,000 grant from the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for works of art. The remainder came from the Gallery's own acquisition funds.

In this portrait Anna Wintour is depicted without her signature sunglasses against a yellow background. 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 movie 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.”

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.’

British born Wintour has made a significant contribution to the international fashion industry. Before becoming Editor of British VOGUE (1984-87) and Editor in Chief of American VOGUE, she worked as a journalist on magazine titles including Harper’s and Queen and House and Garden. She is credited with boosting the circulation and re-invigorating both titles in the VOGUE franchise. Her work at American VOGUE has been documented in The September Issue (2009).

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. A display of the artist’s work, Alex Katz Portraits was held at the National Portrait Gallery from 15 May – 21 September 2010, and was linked to an exhibition of new work at the Timothy Taylor Gallery, through which the painting was acquired.

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘Anna Wintour by Alex Katz is a powerful painting - of one great international figure created by another. I am most grateful to the artist and to the Art Fund for making this acquisition possible.’

Dr Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund the UK’s leading independent art charity says: ‘The National Portrait Gallery is the place for portraits of people who have made and are making British history and culture. The addition of Alex Katz’s portrait of Anna Wintour, combining American and British culture, is extremely fitting and we are delighted to have helped buy the painting for visitors to the Gallery to enjoy.’

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