Alex Katz is designing an H&M collection

The artist is offering his images on womenswear, menswear, accessories, and home décor this Christmas
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Ada with Bathing Cap (1982) by Alex Katz. As reproduced in our book
Ada with Bathing Cap (1982) by Alex Katz. As reproduced in our book

In an interview reproduced in our Alex Katz book, the painter is quizzed by fellow artist Richard Prince. Prince asks Katz “What are some of the things in your life that you saw or heard or came on and thought, Yeah, now that’s new?”

Katz comes up with a wonderful list, which includes the music of Dizzy Gillespie and the poetry of John Ashbery alongside the work of Man Ray, Jeff Koons, Mike Kelley and Pablo Picasso. However, there are a few poppier inclusions in there, such as “1960s vinyl coats, white or black,” and “Richard Avedon’s fashion photos.”

 

 The Black Dress (1960) by Alex Katz. As reproduced in our book
The Black Dress (1960) by Alex Katz. As reproduced in our book

Now, at the age of 89, Katz looks set to influence these media, following the announcement that he will produce a capsule collection for the international clothing retailer H&M.

The Alex Katz H&M collection will feature his paintings on womenswear, menswear, accessories, and home décor; and, far from being a hands-off affair, Katz appears to be an excited and fully engaged partner in this project. “It is exciting for me to work with H&M to make my art more accessible to more people,” he said. “The partnership with H&M surpassed my expectations.” 

 

The Black Jacket (1972) by Alex Katz. As reproduced in our book
The Black Jacket (1972) by Alex Katz. As reproduced in our book

The collaboration isn't surprising, as his works often belie an incredible sense of style and fashion. Plenty of Katz's pictures take their titles from the clothes worn by his sitters; he even produced a cycle of works entitled Fashion in 2008. Outside of picture making, Katz also modelled for J Crew in 2009 and produced a series of friezes for Barney's department store windows in 2015. And when the painter isn’t overtly referring to the changing modes of dress, he still records fashionable details with remarkable accuracy. Art historian Robert Rosenblum is quoted in our monograph as saying, with regards to Katz’s mid-1970s works, that the “clothing and hair style are so time-bound that a later historian of costume could date the pictures quickly by observing the width of a lapel, the neckline of a sweater, the length of someone’s sideburns.”

There probably won’t be any punky, upsetting pictures in this H&M collection; as Robert Storr puts it in our book, Katz’s imagery can be characterised as “pictures of extraordinary well-being, pictures of a middle-class life and the apogee of American power and prosperity.” Though that by no measure demeans the artistry and rarefied pleasure viewers can derive from his pictures.

 

Isaac and Oliver (2013) by Alex Katz. As reproduced in our book
Isaac and Oliver (2013) by Alex Katz. As reproduced in our book

The range will be made available in H&M stores across the world and online from 1 December. Can’t wait until then? Well, you can always order a copy of his monograph here.


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Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
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