Skip to content
Poetry Foundation

Alex Katz: Collaborations with Poets takes an intimate look at the artist's long-time collaborative engagement with poets. The exhibition is the first to highlight Katz’s deep interest in poetry and his connection to the poets of the New York School. In the early 1950s, as Alex Katz entered the art world and a new style of American poetry emerged, the painter found natural affinities to the poets in their shared interest in expressing contemporary living. As scholar Debra Bricker Balken states in her essay for the forthcoming exhibition publication, “Not only did he feel that its community was vibrant but also its denizens more attuned to the present, to the impulses of American life, and to articulating new languages that brazenly defied tradition by flaunting style over meaning. What Katz found so compelling about this scene was its complete disregard for aesthetic precedent, irreverence for an academy of poetry, and gravitation toward vernacular expression, where words were less pondered and possessed an immediacy that spoke of nowness.” The exhibition brings together works created over the past 60 years, including prints, portfolios, special-edition books, paintings, and unique cutouts, all of which center on Katz’s communion and intersection with poets throughout his career.

Organized by the Poetry Foundation with guidance from the artist and his son, the poet Vincent Katz, the exhibition offers an opportunity to experience Alex Katz’s deep passion for an art form whose tactics he considers to be “more stimulating than painting.” 

GRAY is also pleased to announce the release of the forthcoming publication, Alex Katz: Collaborations with Poets. This volume features an in-depth essay written by art historian and curator Debra Bricker Balken and comprehensive illustrations of Alex Katz’s book covers, print portfolios, and unique artworks that center on his work with poets such as John Ashbery, Frank O’Hara, Ted Berrigan, Alice Notley, and Ron Padgett.

Alex Katz came of age as an artist between Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. Katz began exhibiting his work in 1954; since then, he has produced a celebrated body of work that includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, and prints. His earliest work took inspiration from various aspects of mid-century American culture and society, including television, film, and advertising. 

Vincent Katz is a poet, translator, curator, and critic. Katz is the author of numerous poetry collections, including Broadway for Paul, Southness, Swimming Home, and Rapid Departures. He is also coauthor of Fantastic Caryatids, a collaboration with Anne Waldman. His book collaborations with artists include Alcuni Telefonini with Francesco Clemente and Judge with Wayne Gonzales, among others. Katz also edited and wrote the introduction to Poems to Work On: The Collected Poems of Jim Dine.