Untitled

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  • Provenance

    James Goodman Gallery Inc., New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner on May 5, 1988

  • Exhibited

    West Palm Beach, Norton Gallery & School of Art, 1997 (on extended loan)

  • Catalogue Essay

    The Women had to do with the female painted through the ages, all those idols.” – Willem de Kooning

    Remaining in the Miles and Shirley Fiterman Collection for over thirty years, Untitled is an extraordinary example of Willem de Kooning’s skilled draughtsmanship in a rare large scale. Exploring the fine line between figuration and abstraction, this work depicts de Kooning’s iconic female nude, with which he was catapulted to fame in the 1950s. Swathes of thick, dark charcoal describe the contours of the woman’s body in rapid, expressive strokes, and the dynamic composition is enlivened by flashes of red and blue paint. Executed in 1964-1966, Untitled is exemplary of the stylistic shift in de Kooning’s practice that coincided with the artist’s move to the Hamptons in the 1960s. If de Kooning’s women from the 1950s appeared violent, now they became more relaxed, expansive and whimsical.

    Although de Kooning exploits the expressive potential of spatial dislocations and juxtapositions that he perfected in the late 1940s and 1950s, the drawing is divested of the skull-like features and rigid geometry which often distinguished his earlier Women paintings. Lynn Cooke observes on the subject of de Kooning’s 1960s drawings: “As in Picasso’s graphic work, a far broader range of situations and moods is permitted. They seem to provide an outlet for the antics of de Kooning’s denizens as well as an occasional arena for rehearsing certain strategies for use later in the oil” (Lynn Cooke, “De Kooning and the Pastoral: The Interrupted Idyll", Willem de Kooning, exh. cat., Hirschhorn Museum Collection, Washington, D.C., p. 98). Composed of gestural curves, Untitled permeates a primal energy – its animalistic forms suggesting Hellenistic depictions of Bacchic frenzies. As de Kooning told an interviewer in the late 1960s, “Some of my earlier women are violent. They even scare me...The women I paint now are very friendly and pastoral, like my landscapes, and not so aggressive” (Willem de Kooning, quoted in David L. Shirey, “Art: Don Quixote in Springs”, Newsweek, December 20, 1967, p. 80).

  • Artist Bio

    Willem de Kooning

    Dutch-American • 1904 - 1997

    Willem de Kooning was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and moved to the United States in his early 20s, arriving in Manhattan by 1927. A founding member of the Abstract Expressionist movement in New York, de Kooning was a contemporary of painters Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline and of course his wife, Elaine de Kooning. 

    Known for having stated “flesh is the reason why oil painting was invented,” de Kooning’s work often evokes the human body--even as some of his contemporaries moved towards pure abstraction. Like the other Abstract Expressionists, de Kooning was a proponent of “Action Painting,” which emphasized the physical aspect of their work, eschewing the idea that painting was necessarily a careful, precise art form. By the 1960s, the artist was living and working out of his farmhouse on Long Island, and he managed to breathe new life into his work after decades in an urban environment. Though he was no longer a public figure at that time, the resultant body of works that he produced from 1975 through 1977 are among his most renowned, both critically and in the marketplace – his auction records since 2006 have been works from this period. Following a prolonged battle with Alzheimer’s, the artist made his last work in 1991 and passed away in 1997.

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Ο124

Property from the Miles and Shirley Fiterman Collection

Untitled

signed "de Kooning" lower center
charcoal and oil on paper mounted on matboard
42 x 32 7/8 in. (106.7 x 83.5 cm.)
Executed circa 1964-1966.

Estimate
$150,000 - 200,000 

sold for $162,500

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261
jmccord@phillips.com

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale Morning Session

New York Auction 15 May | On View at 432 and 450 Park Avenue