The best of Alex Katz’s portraits create a palpable tension between specific and abstract, intimate and remote, near and far. This tension animates Katz’s depiction of both people and space. With Red Coat, (1982) an enigmatic portrait of his wife, Ada, the artist takes his cue from movies, photography and adverting; radically cropping and magnifying his wife’s visage, bringing her face to the very front of the picture plane. Yet, despite her proximity to the viewer, Ada’s expression is indecipherable: whatever she might be thinking or feeling remains a mystery. This does nothing to dampen the portrait’s emotional and psychological charge, which derive directly from Ada’s inaccessibility.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.