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The Café and Courtyard will be closed Sunday, Nov. 17 in preparation for a special event. The museums will close at 5:00 pm, at which point visitors will be directed to exit through the building’s F street lobby. The G street exit and ramp will remain accessible to those who need it. We apologize for any inconvenience.

John Updike

Artist
Alex Katz, born 27 Jul 1927
Sitter
John Hoyer Updike, 18 Mar 1932 - 27 Jan 2009
Date
1982
Type
Painting
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
Stretcher: 120.7 x 85.7cm (47 1/2 x 33 3/4")
Frame: 125.1 x 89.5 x 7.6cm (49 1/4 x 35 1/4 x 3")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine
Restrictions & Rights
© Alex Katz/Licenced by VAGA, New York, NY
Object number
NPG.84.TC156
Exhibition Label
Born Reading, Pennsylvania
The novel historically has its roots in the city. But the astonishingly prolific John Updike showed how it could also examine the morals and manners of suburban America. In his five-part series whose central character is "Rabbit" Angstrom, Updike chronicled middle-class America's postwar history in comic and heartbreaking fashion. Updike also wrote three novels about a moderately successful Jewish novelist called Henry Bech, who implausibly wins the Nobel Prize; curiously, the Nobel is one prize that Updike did not win. Updike once said his goal was to publish a book a year, and he came close with his novels and many collections of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction. That ubiquity landed him on the cover of Time magazine in 1982. The cover artist was Alex Katz, whose oversized flattened forms, detached expressions, and emphatic patterning had been reinvigorating portrait traditions since the 1960s.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection