This exhibition, grandiose in scale, is the first time the entire sixth floor has been given over to one artist. Broken into seven galleries, it covers his early work, the “breakthrough years, his mature career, the third “Women” series (his most famous), his work from the 60s, his lithographs and sculptures and his late paintings. It is a thrill to see almost 200 works in one place to see the progression of an artist’s entire career.
Born in the Netherlands, de Kooning became one of the most prominent members of the New York School and believed that “art should not have to be a certain way.” Though his work can be very different from series to series and decade to decade, one thing remained a constant– his ability to explore both figuration and abstraction within one work of art.
De Kooning studied drawing and was a commercial artist in his home country. He continued as a commercial artist after he moved to New York in 1926. In the 1930s, he was influenced by the works of Stuart Davis, John Graham and Arshile Gorky. By the 1940s he began to experiment with more original abstractions. In 1943 he
married Elaine and she became the inspiration for his first series of “Women” paintings.
This is an exceptional exhibition that you cannot miss. It’s fascinating to see examples from de Kooning’s entire oeuvre and watch the progression of his style from decade to decade.
For additional information on de Kooning: A Retrospective, visit the MoMA.