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Willem de Kooning

Willem de Kooning, The Privileged (Untitled XX), 1985 Oil on canvas, 70 × 80 inches (177.8 × 203.2 cm)© 2013 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo by Tim Nighswander/IMAGING4ART

Willem de Kooning, The Privileged (Untitled XX), 1985

Oil on canvas, 70 × 80 inches (177.8 × 203.2 cm)
© 2013 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo by Tim Nighswander/IMAGING4ART

Willem de Kooning, Untitled, 1987 Oil on canvas, 77 × 88 inches (195.6 × 223.5 cm)

Willem de Kooning, Untitled, 1987

Oil on canvas, 77 × 88 inches (195.6 × 223.5 cm)

About

If I stretch my arms next to the rest of myself and wonder where my fingers are—that is all the space I need as a painter.
—Willem de Kooning

Willem de Kooning (1904–1997) was a first-generation member of the New York School, a group of American artists who rose to prominence in the mid- to late 1940s and were noted for their dynamic, “allover” approach to abstract painting. Over a career that spanned seven decades, de Kooning’s singular contributions to abstraction and figuration set him apart from his peers, and his influence drastically shifted the direction of postwar American painting.

Born on April 24, 1904, in Rotterdam, Netherlands, de Kooning enrolled at the Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts and Techniques at the age of thirteen, while simultaneously working as an apprentice at a commercial and decorative arts firm. He studied drawing at the academy in the evenings, and at the design firm he learned about decorative painting, creating marble and wood-grain patterns, as well as lettering. This multifaceted education equipped him with a unique skill set that would inform his mature art. In 1926 he arrived in the United States, having stowed away on a British freighter, and settled in New York the following year. It was there, on the opposite side of the Atlantic, that he would first encounter European modernism in depth, prompting him to make still lifes inspired by Henri Matisse. He would also soon meet artists Stuart Davis, Arshile Gorky, and John Graham, who would become close friends. In 1935 de Kooning joined the Federal Art Project, part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The experience led him to pursue painting full time. In these early years in New York, his work fluctuated between biomorphic abstraction and more traditional depictions of the figure, from Depression-era men to classical portraits of his wife, the former Elaine Fried, an artist he married in 1943. This seamless transition between styles and subject matter—and resistance to easy categorization—would become hallmarks of de Kooning’s art throughout his long career.

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Willem de Kooning

Photo: Science History Images/Alamy Stock Photo

Website

dekooning.org

Fairs, Events & Announcements

Willem de Kooning, . . . Whose Name Was Writ in Water, 1975, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York © 2021 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

In Conversation

Arthur Lubow and Mark Stevens on “Soutine / de Kooning”

Wednesday, July 14, 2021, 12pm EDT

Join art critics Arthur Lubow and Mark Stevens for a conversation on the occasion of the exhibition Soutine / de Kooning: Conversations in Paint at the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia. The pair will discuss painters Chaïm Soutine (1893–1943) and Willem de Kooning (1904–1997), their respective techniques, and how they pushed the capabilities of oil paint to create surfaces with the tactile, pliable, squirming quality of flesh. To attend the online event, register at tickets.barnesfoundation.org.

Willem de Kooning, . . . Whose Name Was Writ in Water, 1975, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York © 2021 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Tri-state area of the United States

Support

Tri-State Relief Fund

The Willem de Kooning Foundation, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Teiger Foundation, and the Cy Twombly Foundation, as part of their respective COVID-19 relief efforts, have established an emergency relief grant program that will provide $1,250,000 in aid to non-salaried visual arts workers in the tristate area who have experienced financial hardship from lack of income or opportunity as a direct result of the COVID-19 crisis. The program will be administered in partnership with nonprofit arts service organization New York Foundation for the Arts.

Tri-state area of the United States

Jeff Koons, Sacred Heart (Magenta/Gold), 1994–2007 © Jeff Koons

Art Fair

Art Basel 2019

June 13–16, 2019, booth C9
Messe Basel
www.artbasel.com

Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel, presenting works by Georg Baselitz, Joe Bradley, Alexander Calder, Willem de Kooning, Urs Fischer, Ellen Gallagher, Alberto Giacometti, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Jeff Koons, Man Ray, Albert Oehlen, Pablo Picasso, Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Andy Warhol, Mary Weatherford, Tom Wesselmann, and Franz West, among others.

To receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact the gallery at inquire@gagosian.com. To attend the fair, purchase tickets at artbasel.com.

Jeff Koons, Sacred Heart (Magenta/Gold), 1994–2007 © Jeff Koons

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Museum Exhibitions

Willem de Kooning, . . . Whose Name Was Writ in Water, 1975, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York © 2021 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

On View

Chaïm Soutine/Willem de Kooning, la peinture incarnée

Through January 10, 2022
Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris
www.musee-orangerie.fr

Chaïm Soutine/Willem de Kooning, la peinture incarnée explores affinities between the work of Chaïm Soutine (1893–1943) and Willem de Kooning (1904–1997). The exhibition, which places nearly forty-five works by the two artists in visual dialogue, considers how Soutine’s paintings, with their built-up surfaces and energetic brushwork, informed de Kooning’s art, shaping his figurative/abstract works in the late 1940s and beyond. This exhibition has traveled from the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, where it had the title Soutine/de Kooning: Conversations in Paint.

Willem de Kooning, . . . Whose Name Was Writ in Water, 1975, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York © 2021 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Albert Oehlen, Untitled, 1997/2005 © Albert Oehlen. Photo: Lothar Schnepf

On View

Albert Oehlen
“Grandi quadri miei con piccoli quadri di altri”

Through February 20, 2022
Museo d’arte della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland
masilugano.ch

In this exhibition, Albert Oehlen: Big Paintings by Me with Small Paintings by Others”, select works from Oehlen’s personal art collection are on view alongside some of his most significant paintings. In staging this large-scale exhibition, Oehlen aims to make relationships perceptible between his artworks and those by artists whose practices he has long admired. Work by Richard Artschwager, Willem de Kooning, Duane Hanson, Mike Kelley, and Franz West, among others, is included.

Albert Oehlen, Untitled, 1997/2005 © Albert Oehlen. Photo: Lothar Schnepf

Installation view, The Whitney’s Collection: Selections from 1900 to 1965, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 28, 2019–May 2022. Artwork, left to right: © 2020 The Jay DeFeo Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; © Norman Lewis; © 2020 The Franz Kline Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Ron Amstutz

On View

The Whitney’s Collection
Selections from 1900 to 1965

Through May 2022
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
whitney.org

This exhibition of more than 120 works, drawn entirely from the Whitney’s collection, is inspired by the founding history of the museum. The Whitney was established in 1930 by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney to champion the work of living American artists. A sculptor and a patron, Whitney recognized both the importance of contemporary American art and the need to support the artists who made it. The collection she assembled foregrounds how artists uniquely reveal the complexity and beauty of American life. Work by Jay DeFeo, Willem de Kooning, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol, and Tom Wesselmann is included.

Installation view, The Whitney’s Collection: Selections from 1900 to 1965, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 28, 2019–May 2022. Artwork, left to right: © 2020 The Jay DeFeo Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; © Norman Lewis; © 2020 The Franz Kline Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Ron Amstutz

Francis Bacon, Study for a Portrait, 1967, Seattle Art Museum © The Estate of Francis Bacon. Photo: Spike Mafford

On View

Frisson
The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection

Through November 27, 2022
Seattle Art Museum
www.seattleartmuseum.org

This exhibition celebrates the Friday Foundation’s gift of nineteen artworks from the Lang Collection to the Seattle Art Museum in honor of Seattle collectors Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis. Dating from 1945 to 1976, the paintings, drawings, and sculptures in Frisson represent mature works and pivotal moments of artistic development from some of the most influential American and European artists of the postwar period. Work by Francis Bacon, Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, and Alberto Giacometti is included.  

Francis Bacon, Study for a Portrait, 1967, Seattle Art Museum © The Estate of Francis Bacon. Photo: Spike Mafford

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