Willem de Kooning

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de Kooning, Willem

(də ko͞o`nĭng), 1904–97, American painter, b. Netherlands; studied Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts and Techniques. De Kooning immigrated to the United States, arriving as a stowaway in 1926 and settling in New York City, where he worked on the Federal Arts Project (1935). He began experiments with abstraction as early as 1928, but continued to produce realistic paintings throughout the 1930s, and he later oscillated between an abstracted figuration and pure abstraction. Influenced by Arshile GorkyGorky, Arshile
, c.1900–48, American painter, b. Armenia as Vosdanig Adoian. He escaped the Turkish slaughter of Armenians, emigrated to the United States in 1920, studied at Boston's New School of Design, and moved to New York City in 1925.
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, de Kooning forged a powerful abstract style and in the 1940s became a leader of abstract expressionismabstract expressionism,
movement of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the mid-1940s and attained singular prominence in American art in the following decade; also called action painting and the New York school.
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. In his monumental series of the early 1950s entitled Woman, he reintroduced a representational element. Woman I (1950–52; Mus. of Modern Art, New York City), with its startling ferocity, brought him considerable notice and some notoriety. He subsequently reverted chiefly to nonfigurative work, but during the 1960s, when he moved to Long Island, he also produced more paintings of women as well as many works with landscape elements. In this period de Kooning also created semiabstract sculptural figures in bronze and several lithographs. He created a dazzling group of painterly abstractions in the 1970s.

Slashed with color and formed with eloquent brushstrokes, de Kooning's often huge canvases are charged with explosive energy; many are widely considered masterpieces of abstract expressionism. His last works, produced (1980–90) when he was increasingly affected by Alzheimer's disease, include hundreds of large canvases in elegantly composed configurations; their elements are pared down, and their limited, mainly primary colors form sinuously intertwining ribbons. In some sense, de Kooning's art endured amid his encroaching dementia until he stopped painting in mid-1990. He was married to Elaine Fried de Kooning, 1920–89, b. New York City, who, though overshadowed by her famous spouse, was a skilled painter, particularly adept at portraiture, mainly self-portraits and sensual portraits of men. She also painted many works in the abstract expressionist style.


See biographies by H. F. Gaugh (1983), L. Hall (1993, repr. 2000), and M. Stevens and A. Swan (2004); studies by H. Rosenberg (1974), D. Waldman (1978 and 1988), D. Cateforis (1994), D. Sylvester et al. (1994), G. Garrels and R. Storr (1995), S. Yard (1997), K. Kertess et al. (1998), C. Morris (1999), E. Liever (2000), and S. F. Lake (2010); for Elaine de Kooning, see M. Gabriel, Ninth Street Women (2018).

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de Kooning, Willem

(1904–  ) painter; born in Rotterdam, Holland. He came to America in 1926, and is considered, along with Jackson Pollock, a leader in abstract expressionism, the New York-based school of painting that rejected naturalistic content. Examples of this period include his dramatic Black Paintings (1946–48), which were limited to black-and-white colors using enamel and oil paints. His later work became increasingly figurative, and The Woman series, beginning in 1950, brought him notoriety due to his brutal and often erotic treatment of his subject matter.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
is that someone who was next to Keith Richards or in the tub in the movie Performance?) And then there's Elaine de Kooning (I just bought one of her paintings that looks like a 1944 Gorky ...
It is surely no coincidence that, at quite the same moment, de Kooning also bid adieu to beautiful flourish with the strong, incisive gestures in his Parkway Paintings, 1960-61, works also inflected by the Kline model, a connection to which Klaus Kertess draws our attention in his fine essay accompanying the exhibition.
The exhibition has some great juxtapositions, like Gorky's Organization, 1933-36, with Picasso's Studio, 1927-28, and some strange ones, like de Kooning's Pink Angels, circa 1945, with Picasso's Figure, 1927.
The dealer thought the works might pad out his fortnightly auctions, and it was only when they were being unloaded that he saw what he believes are de Kooning paintings.
Jan and Chris Starckx ask for help finding out if a portrait signed Wim Kooning was in fact painted by de Kooning in Brussels at the start of his career in the 1920s.
BEIRUT: In the middle of the 20th century American artist Robert Rauschenberg approached an older colleague, Dutch-born abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning, and asked if he could erase one of his drawings.
Compared to the mostly better studied women artists named above, prior to two interconnected events in 2015--"Elaine de Kooning Portraits," the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery's major exhibition of her portrait-based paintings and drawings, and the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center's complementary summer show, "Elaine de Kooning Portrayed," featuring depictions of the artist by herself and others--a somewhat less incisive focus has been trained on Elaine de Kooning's oeuvre.
De Kooning first encountered the statues at the Metropolitan Museum of Art--upright, majestic, enigmatic with enormous hollowed out or kohl-lined eyes and diminutive hands clasped delicately to the chest.
WILLEM DE KOONING (Dutch/American, 1904-1997), Woman, 1965, Signed de Kooning-, signed Willem de Kooning, dated 1965 and inscribed to Barbara and Roy/Goodman/East Hampton on notecard affixed to the reverse, Oil on paper laid to panel, 19 x 24 inches.