April 24, 1904. Willem de Kooning (April 24, 1904 - March 19, 1997) was a Dutch American abstract expressionist artist who was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. In the post-World War II era, de Kooning painted in a style that came to be referred to as Abstract expressionism or Action painting, and was part of a group of artists that came to be known as the New York School. Other painters in this group included Jackson Pollock, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko, Hans Hofmann, Adolph Gottlieb, Robert Motherwell, Philip Guston, and Clyfford Still.
Abstract Expressionism, and particularly de Kooning’s macho brand of it, began to attract skepticism almost as soon as its progenitors hit the big time. It was a heroic style. It came swaddled in a heroic rhetoric that was ripe for ridicule. De Kooning’s blowsy, self-destructive emotional life — his binge drinking and bed hopping, pursued at full tilt in the ’60s — only inflated the target.
Half a century of methodical picking apart and parody have ensued: Every subsequent movement in American art has been, to one degree or another, in revolt against Abstract Expressionism (the movement is the subject of a major show this fall at the Museum of Modern Art).
But a target is a singular thing; de Kooning was many. An instinctive innovator, he switched seamlessly between abstraction and figuration, between color and black-and-white, between urban and pastoral subjects, and between drawing, sculpture, and painting Waltham. 781-736-3434, www.brandeis.edu/rose
de kooning woman
images from Wikipedia/Creative Commons