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Eli

1963

Alex Katz, Eli, 1963. Oil on canvas, 73 1/2 × 95 1/2 in. (186.7 × 242.6 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Fischbach  64.37
Art © Alex Katz / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Alex Katz is interested in size and scale, and how people become larger than life on billboards, advertising signs, and movie screens. But Katz doesn’t choose movie stars as his subjects, instead he makes portraits of his friends and family. Katz often paints portraits on very large canvases, simplifying his subject’s features and using areas of flat color so that he or she appears gigantic and monumental. Katz made this painting of his young friend Eli with bold, simple shapes. Even though Eli’s face takes up most of the space, and there is not much detail in the background, Katz gives us some clues about where he might be. Look at the expression on Eli’s face and the hat he is wearing, then imagine what he might do next.
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Alex Katz, Eli, 1963
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Work height: 6'1"
Kid height: 4'0"
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