Artists in the History

Willem De Kooning

Willem de Kooning (1904–1997) was a member of the First Generation of the New York School, a group of American artists whose compositions rose to prominence in the mid-1940s and were known for their dynamic approach and “all the time” abstract painting. During his seventy-year career de Kooning distinguished himself from his peers by delivering on his unique contributions to abstraction and figure and his influence drastically changed the direction of post-war American painting.

The artist Willem de Kooning was born in Rotterdam in April 24, 1904 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands and entered the Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts and Methods at the age of thirteen while working as an apprentice for an arts and crafts company. After studying at the Rotterdam Academy formally, Willem de Kooning emigrated to America at the age of twenty-two…

As a child, he became close to his mother after his parents divorced and became free to recognize non-intellectual, banal or humorous characters or objects sometimes seen in his abstract paintings.

Over the years, de Kooning became increasingly interested in abstract art, making him one of the key figures in the abstract expressionist movement of the 1940s such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman. In 1948, he displayed his first art shows and most of his work included compositions in black and white enamel paintings. De Kooning painted in a style which became called Abstract Expressionism or “action painting” and was part of a group of artists known as the New York School.

Other artists of the group include Jackson Pollock, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Franz Klein, Acher Gorky, Mark Rothko, Hans Hoffman, Adolf Gottlieb, Anne Ryan, Robert Motherwell, Philip Guston, Clifford Steele, and Richard Purset-Dart. From about 1928 onwards, he moved to a studio in Manhattan and was influenced by the artist, connoisseur and art critic John Graham and the painter Ashel Gorky.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, de Kooning joined other contemporary artists including Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline in their struggle to free themselves from the general art movements of the time, including Cubism, Surrealism and Regionalism, their emotional gestures and abstract figures were the result of their attempts to abandon other movements.

De Kooning entered the Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts and Letters in 1916, where he studied until 1925, emigrated to the United States in 1926 and worked as a painter in Hoboken, New Jersey, then moved to New York in 1935, where have worked. in the wall and easel department of the VPA Federal Art Project. After this period, de Kooning constantly painted and was influenced by Cubism and Surrealism, as well as improvisational painting techniques.

He was not content to work for commercial art for several years and was unable to pursue his creative pursuits when he moved to New York. Although he worked in commercial art for many years, de Kooning found a group of like-minded artists in the city and quickly came under the influence of the lyrical freedom of jazz and the abstract art created by others under his influence. New York introduced him to the work of Henri Matisse and his contemporaries, including John Graham and Arshi

In 1935, de Kooning joined the Federal Art Project, which is part of the Work Progress Office (WPA), and this fluid transition between styles and plots – and resistance to simple categorization – will become a hallmark of de Kunings’ art through his long career.

Willem de Kooning, a central figure in midcentury New York School of Painting, studied commercial art in Rotterdam, none of them were executed [1], but one sketch for one was included in his first group exhibition “New Horizons of American Art” at Museum of Modern Art. De Kooning met his wife Elaine Fried in the American School of Artists in New York City.

His dual foundations of drawing and craftsmanship underpin all of his works, even the most abstract works. De Kooning’s paintings from the 1930s and early 1940s are abstract still lifes characterized by geometric or biomorphic shapes and vibrant colors, as well as the influence of Arp, Joan Miró, Mondrian and Pablo Picasso.

In 2018 an art dealer from New York named David Killen discovered that he believed six de Kooning paintings were from a cabinet in New Jersey. Killen said he bought the contents of the cabinet from the conservator’s workshop and then engaged an expert to evaluate the unsigned paintings.

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