Born in Brooklyn, Alex Katz studied in New York and in Skowhegan, Maine. In the early 1950s he was influenced by the work of Abstract Expressionists and produced swiftly executed pictures of trees as well as various works based on photographs. In the mid 1950s he painted spare, brightly colored works of landscape, interiors, and figures, and produced simplified images in collage. These early works emphasized the flatness of the picture plane while remaining representational, and this insistence on figuration placed him outside the contemporary avant-garde mainstream. He developed his style in the portrait works of ordinary people from the late 1950s. This resolution of the demands of formalism and representation looked forward to Pop art. In the 1960s Katz's works became more realistic and were executed in a smoother, more impersonal style. Though concentrating on figures in interiors and in urban environments, he also painted a number of landscape and flower pieces. Katz achieved great public prominence in the 1980s, and among the works of that decade were a number of multi-panel paintings.