Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning, (born April 24, 1904, Rotterdam, Netherlands—died March 19, 1997, East Hampton, New York, U.S.), Dutch-born American painter who was one of the leading exponents of Abstract Expressionism, particularly the form known as Action painting. During the 1930s and ’40s de Kooning worked simultaneously in figurative and abstract modes, but by about 1945 these two tendencies seemed to fuse. The series Woman I–VI caused a sensation with its violent imagery and impulsive, energetic technique. His later work showed an increasing preoccupation with landscape.
Whereas de Kooning had painted women regularly in the early 1940s and again from 1947 to 1949, and the biomorphic shapes of his early abstractions can be interpreted as female symbols, it was not until 1950 that he began to explore the subject of women exclusively. In the summer of that year he began Woman I, which went through innumerable metamorphoses before it was finished in 1952. During that period he also created other paintings of women. Those works were shown at the Sidney Janis Gallery in 1953 and caused a sensation, chiefly because they were figurative when most of his fellow Abstract Expressionists were painting abstractly and because of their blatant technique and imagery. The savagely applied pigment and the use of colours that seem vomited on his canvas combine to reveal a woman all too congruent with some of modern man’s most widely held sexual fears. The toothy snarls, overripe, pendulous breasts, vacuous eyes, and blasted extremities imaged the darkest Freudian insights. The Woman paintings II through VI (1952–53) are all variants on this theme, as are Woman and Bicycle (1953) and Two Women in the Country (1954). The deliberate vulgarity of these paintings contrasts with the French painter Jean Dubuffet’s no less harsh Corps de dame series of 1950, in which the female, formed with a rich topography of earth colours, relates more directly to universal symbols.
Untitled is a Watercolour, gouache and charcoal on paper painting and drawing by Willem de Kooning. It features the following stickers on verso: a) Johanna Liesbeth de Kooning Trust (registered as no.03511): b) Galerie Fred Jahn, Mitchell-Innes & Nash stickers & c) Fortress Worldwide. It has been exhibited twice.