How the Simplicity of Alex Katz Inspires My Style

The worlds of fashion and art constantly cross paths. Moschino’s MacDonald’s handbags nod to the pop-art of Andy Warhol, think Campbell’s soup cans and Brillo pads. Or, in photography, think that 1999 Steven Meisel editorial of Nicole Kidman reenacting John Singer Sargeant paintings. Painters may not exactly follow trends the way fashion designers do, but they do feed off of their environments, and being as most people wear clothes. Fashion does play a part.

“My subject matter is not particularly interesting,” Katz says with a smile…

Alex Katz, 89, began painting in the 1950′s when Abstract Expressionism was en vogue, he noticed no one was painting people, or landscapes. So he decided to take that route. Of course, painting people, there is nothing unique about it. He told the Smithsonian in a 2009 interview, “My subject matter is not particularly interesting,” Katz says with a smile. “It’s not hot subject matter—you know, no crucifixions, no violence, no sex.” His paintings are a stripped down version of the world, which is where they become interesting. Though the paintings span fifty years, they still have a timeless quality. n a sense, his work portrays a universal truth. Even if you don’t live the life of an artist in New York, I can relate to the snapshots of his paintings. They’re like little moments in my memory.

What I find interesting about Katz’s work is that even though his paintings are about nothing really,  he finds a way to make them interesting without resorting to embellishment or gimmicky tricks. The paintings are distinctly personal (many of his paintings include is wife since 1958, Ava) yet universal. So, maybe I wouldn’t recreate a painting for one of my outfits, but in the search of my own personal style, the lesson is, that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I don’t have to resort to gimmicks to make my outfits “pop.” They don’t have to be special to be striking.

But… my style does have to be distinctly personal.

(yes, that’s Anna Wintour!)

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