Pas de Deux

Students touring the Paul J. Schupf Wing for the Works of Alex Katz.
Far wall behind students: Pas de Deux, 1983
Oil on canvas, 132 x 360 in. (335.28 x 914.4 cm)
Gift of Paul J. Schupf H'91 in honor of Hugh J. Gourley III.

Paul J. Schupf Wing for the Works of Alex Katz

Alex Katz is one of the most important American artists of our time, and his impressive body of work constitutes a unique aspect of modern realism. In 1992 Katz donated more than 400 of his works to the Colby College Museum of Art. The Paul J. Schupf Wing for the Works of Alex Katz, which opened in 1996 and presents ongoing selections from the Katz Collection, was made possible through the generosity of then Colby trustee Paul J. Schupf. The Schupf Wing makes the Colby Museum one of the few in the United States with a wing devoted solely to the work of a single living artist. Mr. Schupf has also given a number of important works by Katz, including the large-scale painting Pas de Deux, an iconic painting from 1983, in honor of Hugh J. Gourley III, director emeritus of the Museum. Colby’s collection now includes nearly 700 Katz works. Archive material related to the Katz Collection is held by Colby’s Special Collections and is available to students and researchers by appointment.

Biography of Alex Katz

Alex Katz was born in 1927 in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in St. Albans, Queens. From 1946 to 1949 he studied at the Cooper Union in New York City. Katz’s connection with Maine began in 1949, when he received a Cooper Union scholarship to the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. The school’s cofounder, Colby Museum benefactor Willard Cummings, introduced the artist to Colby in the 1950s, and Katz has continued his relationship with the College while a longtime summer resident of Lincolnville, Maine. Katz received an honorary doctorate from the College in 1984, has served on several museum committees, and currently serves on the Colby Museum’s board of governors. Katz is known for work that displays a shallow visual space, highlighting the two-dimensional nature of paintings. Though many of his works are portraits, he does not aspire to reproduce authentic physical features or personalities. Rather, these figures are treated as symbols and serve as vehicles for exploring the formal aspects of picture-making.