Morris Katz

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Morris Katz
Morris Katz
Other Names:
Instant Artist, Moshe Katz
A fast painting Jewish artist who became a Guinness World Record Holder for this feat.

Morris Katz was born Moshe Katz to a Jewish family before the Second World War (1932) in Galicia, Poland and died in 2010 in New York aged 78, with two Guinness Book of World Records entries to his name -‘the fastest’ and ‘most prolific’ painter. He never married.


[edit] Artistic Background

Surviving the war, Morris Katz first studied painting as a teenager in the Munich Academy. Other well–known artist alumni of the Academy include Paul Klee and Edvard Munch. After studying carpentry in a displaced persons (D.P.) camp Morris was able to move to the United States in 1949. He first worked as a carpenter while continuing to study art at the Art Students League in Greenwich Village, New York. Morris Katz gradually developed a painting technique using palette knives and rags instead of the more conventional brushes. Eventually he found that using toilet paper gave him the results he wanted, and enabled him to work extremely quickly. Katz even taught himself to paint with both hands so that he could paint two paintings at the same time!

[edit] Paint Fast, Paint Good, Sell Cheap

Part of Katz's philosophy was that good art didn’t need to be expensive. By painting a lot of paintings (almost ¼ million in his lifetime) and painting them very fast, anything from under 15 minutes to 38 seconds (the World Record), Morris Katz could sell them at affordable prices for ordinary people and still earn a respectable living.

[edit] Entertainer

Using his gift of the gab and his ability to turn out ‘Instant Paintings Morris Katz began to entertain as a ‘tummler’ in the famous ‘Borscht Belt’ hotels in the Catskill mountains. Audiences could watch him turn out painting after painting while he had them rolling in the aisles with corny one-line jokes and remarks. After the show they would line up to compliment him and bid to buy the paintings in the post-show auction, paying anything from a few dollars to over $100 per painting.

[edit] TV Performer

Katz gradually started appearing on TV and in 1980 he had his own half-hour ‘Instant Art Show’ on cable TV where he would paint 3 paintings per show in front of a panel who would comment on the paintings. By the end of his life Morris Katz boasted that he had been on TV over 600 times including guest appearances on talk shows like David Letterman and Oprah.

[edit] Fundraiser

Morris Katz appeared in telethons and other charity fundraising events to raise money for worthwhile organizations. In one famous fundraiser for the Boy Scouts of America he managed to paint 103 paintings in 12 hours, selling over half of them on the spot! Having almost died in World War 2, Morris also painted paintings with Jewish themes as a way of raising money for Jewish causes.

[edit] Teacher

Morris taught art in the Learning Annex in New York City as well as running classes in his gallery in the Village. His ‘Paint Good & Fast’ book (1985) still enables aspiring artists to learn his techniques to produce ‘instant art’ paintings.

[edit] Themes and Galleries

In addition to his landscape, animal and Jewish theme pictures, Morris Katz painted a series of Presidential portraits of every President of the United States. Prior to his death he was working on his ‘President Obama’ portrait. Towards the end of his life, although he had galleries in both New York and Jerusalem, he also developed a website and virtual online gallery, where examples of his work can be seen.

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