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An excerpt from Ann Beattie’s Alex Katz by Ann Beattie

Ann Beattie’s Alex Katz by Ann Beattie will be published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, in March, at 92 pages, with 26 color illustrations.

It is difficult to look at some of Katz’s paintings and not imagine that there must have been times when his powers of observation pained him. Though we are more likely to think of a painter such as Eric Fischl, who seems to be peeking at his subjects enacting something that is obviously—or potentially—shocking, and who transforms ordinary surroundings into contextual definitions of people as a social interpreter, Katz has—in a naturalistic, yet stylized way—defined, perhaps equally disturbingly, some constants about the quality and texture of contemporary life. With Fischl, the near-mythic meets the new age, and we confront a vision in which complexity evolves from juxtapositions meant to shock. Katz, on the other hand, doesn’t augment what he

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