Art: The Rockwell of the Intelligentsia

At the Whitney, Alex Katz's stylish figure paintings

A taste for Alex Katz's work is easily acquired, but is it obligatory? After reading what has been written about the Katz retrospective that opened last month at New York City's Whitney Museum of American Art, one would think so. The reviews and catalog essays thus far have favorably compared him with Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Jackson Pollock, Frederic Remington, Caspar David Friedrich, Cole Porter and Fred Astaire. "Katz's astonishing achievement," writes Curator Richard Marshall in the catalog, "is to have reconciled abstraction and realism in post-World War II America."

There is no doubt that Katz, at 58, is one of...

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