Monday, April 4, 2011

Willem de Kooning

Saturday Night (1956), Oil on Canvas, 68 3/4 x 79"

Willem de Kooning (born April 24, 1904) once started out as a "commercial" artist. He studied in night classes while apprenticing to other commercial artists. In 1926 he became one of many stowaways to travel to the United States, a year later finding himself in Manhattan. During his time here he was inspired by other artists of his time: Arshille Gorky, Franz Kline and, somewhat noticeable in his later work, Jackson Pollack.

His early influences were reflecting European and Mexican Art. However, it wasn't until the early 1930's when he began to explore Abstract Art and started to use simple geometric shapes to convey his voice on canvas. His most controversial art was his pieces of women in the 1950's. de Kooning began to paint exclusively of in later in his career, making abstract forms of the female body. His geometric shapes, painting abstract yet concrete at the same time. His women have ghastly appearances, which suggest sexuality, but at the same time is exploding with color and runaway lines that it can hardly stand for anything. Crowds were intrigued, but also furious at suggesting that women could ever be shown in such a manner.

(above) Seated Woman (1952),

Pencil, Pastel and Oil on two sheets of paper,

12 1/8 x 9 1/2"

Due to his diagnoses of Alzheimzer Disease in 1980, his work began few and far in between, being seen with less substance than his earlier work. As time drew on, de Kooning's work became less active, yet more lucrative at the same time, his earlier pieces selling for millions. He died March 19, 1997, leaving his works of Abstract Expressionism to the masses, to refer to it as how they wanted it to be.

"Whatever an artist's personal feelings are, as soon as an artist fills a certain area on the canvas or circumscribes it, he becomes historical. He acts from or upon other artists"-Willem de Kooning

Sources: 1. 2. 3. (Quote) Images: 1. (Saturday Night) Copyright: The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artist Right Society (ARS), New York 2.(Seated Woman) Copyright: The Willem de Kooning Foundation/ Arist Right Society (ARS), New York

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