Willem de Kooning - Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Monday, November 11, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    Constructed sometime between 1949 and 1953, Willem de Kooning’s Women is a wonderful glimpse into the turning gears of his artistic mind. Alive with a mix of figure and shape, limb and facial features, the present lot comes at de Kooning’s greatest and most productive artistic period. It was during this time that de Kooning’s single figure of the Woman came to define his artistic styling; it was an Abstract Expressionist’s interpretation of the beauty of the female body. Centered on the paper, de Kooning’s drawing is not a series of delineated characters, but rather a confuence of figures, each dependent upon the other for their existence. At the far right, we can make out the womanly curves of a front-facing subject, along with de Kooning’s nods to his Cubist past contained in her multiple vantage points. Centrally, a pastiche of eyes and disembodied limbs comprises our central female figure, the most abstracted of the bunch. And, at the far left, we find a Woman in profile, giving the illusion of the figures’ communal interaction.

    De Kooning’s Women, 1949-53 is unique in that its title refers specifcally to multiple characters, as opposed to multiple incarnations of the same character. Indeed, his inclination to endow his abstracted fgures with lives of their own gives them much more power than, say, a simple sketch of a model for artistic study. De Kooning’s Women were never simply fgures in a piece of art—his fgures were the art themselves

  • Artist Biography

    Willem de Kooning

    American • 1904 - 1997

    Born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Willem de Kooning 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 Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, and of course his wife, Elaine de Kooning. Having claimed that “flesh is the reason why oil painting was invented,” de Kooning is best known for his rapid, forceful brushwork and thickly impastoed paint in evoking the human body, even as some of his contemporaries moved towards pure abstraction. Like the other New York School painters, de Kooning was a proponent of “Action Painting,” which emphasized the physical aspect of the work, eschewing the idea that painting was necessarily a careful, precise art form.

    By the 1960s, the artist was living and working in East Hampton, where he managed to breathe new life into his work after decades in an urban environment and remained there until his death in 1997 at the age of 92. De Kooning’s works reside in leading institutions worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., Tate, London, and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.

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pencil on paper
8 3/4 x 11 5/8 in. (22.2 x 29.5 cm.)
Signed "de Kooning" lower right; further inscribed and encircled "26" upper left.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Contact Specialist
Amanda Stoffel
Head of Day Sale
[email protected]
+1 212 940 1261

Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York 12 November 2013 11AM