Considered by many to be one of the most important painters of the twentieth century, and certainly the quintessential Abstract Expressionist, Willem de Kooning represents a significant period of contemporary art history. Therefore, it is no wonder why the Museum of Modern Art in New York City curated a show representing all seven decades of his artistic life. This exhibit is larger than large, taking up multiple rooms and thousands of square-footage.
It was nice to finally see all of de Kooning’s work represented under one roof, particularly that from the 50s and 60s; from his Franz Kline influenced pieces to his infamous Woman series. The surface textures and nuances of the shapes and brushstrokes in all of his paintings are unbelievably strong; you really get a sense of how hard he worked being up close to these masterpieces. Make sure to check out Bolton Landing from his non objective phase – the rich blue will pull you in and keep your eyes moving. His later paintings were not nearly as strong as the earlier ones, no doubt influenced by his deteriorating health. Seeing this latter body of work further humanized de Kooning and made him an even greater legend in my eyes.
This show was made possible by the dozens of collectors that donated their privately owned works, along with the numerous museums and curators that gave their time and support to this massive project. The show runs through January 9.