Thursday, January 21, 2010

Willem de Kooning

Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning (1904-1997) was born in Holland. At the age of 21, he stowed away on a ship to United States.

And in the mid 1930s, like Arshile Gorky and Jackson Pollock, he painted for WPA in the easel and mural divisions.

He was ‘fired’ in 1937 because he wasn’t an American citizen. He later said that his year working for the WPA gave him his first opportunity to paint full time.

De Kooning was highly influenced by Gorky, the Mexican muralists, Paris art movement like surrealism, Pablo Picasso, and Joan Miro.

He was heavily influenced by his rival, Pollock.

De Kooning’s action paintings may be his best works. His Gotham News is perfectly coordinated chaos, a brash jazzy display of slashing colors that look as though they were spread in the canvas by competing windshield wipers.

In the late 1940s, de Kooning’s Expressionism became figurative (representational). His angst ridden canvas Woman I (like his follow up paintings Woman II through Woman VI) seem like a portrait not of woman but of a neurotic world leering at itself in a mirror.

He depicts the “woman” with massive almost militant breasts and a greedy, toothy, bug eyed face. She eludes the vilest aspects of human nature.

The slashed-up landscape around her is as gruesome as she is, suggesting that her powerful personality has flowed into the environment and corrupted it.
Willem de Kooning
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