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The Works of Willem de Kooning, 1943 - 56

Willem de Kooning was a Dutch born painter. He studied various forms of art at a Dutch academy for the Arts. De Kooning decided to go to New York and be a part of the modern art scene in the US, however, he was not able to get a visa so he illegally immigrated. Soon after arriving in New York, de Kooning became an ad designer. He made good money doing so. By the mid 1930's he committed to making art full time and by the lat 30's he had already established an underground reputation. 1. de Kooning, Queen of Hearts, 1943 Queen of hearts has a Picasso like cubism point of departure. He contorts his figure in order to fill the space on the canvas. The image was very shocking to American artists at the time. It wasn't tasteful, the colors crashed vividly. It was ugly. 2. de Kooning, Pink Angels, 1945 de Kooning is feeling his way through abstraction. He developed a form of "automatic surrealism." He created imagery in a quick, un-thought out way. Almost an impulse of putting paint onto canvas. In automatic surrealism, the faster the artist could put paint to canvas the better. Using Matisse's "The Pink Nude", de Kooning takes this impulse and expands on the technique. 3. de Kooning, Painting, 1948 The use of automatic surrealism is still present. The way he paints, the motions within the brush strokes, and the tools and materials he uses all start to reinforce this way of painting. He enjoys the process quality of his work and expands on it. The black enamel he uses in this, and in subsequent paintings, is inexpensive and fast drying. He is painting so fast that the paint is dripping down onto the canvas. de Kooning replaces his smaller, more detail oriented brushes for bigger brushes because he could paint faster using these. Even color became a distraction form the focus on the quick process of painting in and of itself, so he limited his use of color. 4. de Kooning, Excavation, 1950 This particular painting is extremely large. The size of the painting speaks to the artist's determination and the statement he wants associated with the painting. de Kooning has created an extremely shallow image here with no areas of concentration (similar to Lee Krasner's "all over images" from the previous card). The painting itself relies on gestural brush strokes. We can visibly see de Kooning's work, effort, and process of making the entire image. Another point to notice is that this and subsequent painting are extremely thick and heavy because de Kooning paints many layers in his process. 5. de Kooning, Woman I, 1950 - 52 From 1949 - 51 we saw de Kooning's energy packed gestures and brush strokes. Around 1951, de Kooning began rebuilding human figures, many utilizing his previously seen strokes and gestures. This particular painting is part of a larger series called Women. de Kooning was actually criticized for not staying with his complete abstractions like he had done in previous works. But de Kooning didn't want to 'sit' with other artists or their style. He wanted to set the pace himself. Woman I is extremely flat. The woman seems to be sitting on top of the painting itself. However, the space is complicated and confusing to the viewer. de Kooning makes us question where the woman ends and the background begins. As with previous works, this painting is comprised of many layers. He painted for years adding layer after layer. Even though he spent so much time adding to it, Woman I is still raw, open, and unfinished. In reality any of the many layers could have been the finished product. At the bottom of the layers, all it started from is a single clipping of Marilyn Monroe's mouth. A metaphorical, deep sexual beginning. Society was un-accepting of the work, and looked for a reasoning within de Kooning's life to explain this work. People viewed Woman I as a misogynistic work. They believed he hated the female body, maybe because of his wife or maybe his mother. de Kooning said the painting wasn't hateful or misogynistic or hateful. To him it was expressive and passionate. Woman I is de Kooning's inner woman, and it was beautiful to him. 6. de Kooning, Gotham News, 1955 7. de Kooning, Easter Monday, 1955 - 56
This is such an interesting collection and artist, I'm curious just how large Excavation is do you happen to know @hunahuna?
Awesome right up @hunahuna. I'm definitely going to redirect my friends to this card when they doubt artists such as de Kooning. For a matter of fact, I'll just send them your collection!
Ah, I remember memorizing the fifth one in sophomore year art history class!
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