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At first glance, Alex Katz’s work of 1959–60 does not appear to have caught the message that the times were shifting. But initial appearances are sometimes deceiving. This chapter argues that while Katz is often designated as proto-Pop, given his associations with the world of fashion and consumerism, his work refuses such easy pigeonholing. It is not “proto” anything. To grasp what is distinctive about Katz’s work, it is necessary to recognize that his use of photography and cinema paradoxically freed his paintings from considerations of reproduction. Rather than tying the image to the referent, photography and cinema provided Katz with the kind of autonomy he needed to introduce into his work a different kind of reality.

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