Published in conjunction with the first large-scale, multi-medium, posthumous retrospective of Willem de Kooning's career, this publication offers an unparalleled opportunity to appreciate the development of the artist's work as it unfolded over nearly seven decades, beginning with his early academic works, made in Holland before he moved to the United States in 1926, and concluding with his final, sparely abstract paintings of the late 1980s. The volume presents approximately 200 paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints, covering the full diversity of de Kooning's art and placing his many masterpieces in the context of a complex and fascinating pictorial practice. An introductory essay by John Elderfield, MoMA's Chief Curator Emeritus of Painting and Sculpture, provides an in-depth exploration of de Kooning's development, context and sources, theory of art and working methods. Sections devoted to particular areas of the artist's oeuvre provide an illustrated chronology of the period and a brief introduction, as well as detailed entries on groups of works. With lavish, full-color documentation, this landmark publication is the most complete account of de Kooning's artistic career to date.
Willem de Kooning was born in Rotterdam, The Netherlands in 1904, and moved to the United States in 1926. His early figurative painting slowly gained attention, and his black-and-white abstractions of the late 1940s made him a leader among the New York Abstract Expressionists; but the early 1950s Woman paintings made him famous for the violence of their depiction. De Kooning moved to Long Island in 1963, working in both abstract and figurative styles through the 1980s. He died in 1997.
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Elderfield (emer., MoMA) offers an introductory essay that analyzes early critical approaches to the artist and acquaints readers with the spatial complexities of de Kooning's paintings. Dwelling upon de Kooning's use of preparatory sketches and recycled pictorial elements, the author deflates the rhetoric of action painting that has oversimplified the artist's work. Subsequent essays by Elderfield, Mahony, and Jennifer Field offer erudite studies of everything from the WPA works and the "Woman" series to de Kooning's "full arm" "urban landscapes" and the torqued ribbons of his late canvases. This is a catalogue about biography, sources (many of them from pre-modern painting), process, form, and-particularly in the studies of major works by conservationists Jim Coddington and Susan F. Lake-materials...the many reproductions are invaluable, and Delphine Huisinga's meticulous chronologies are a boon to researchers. (S. K. Rich Choice)
This volume magnifies and clarifies the great exhibition's many facets, honoring the complexity of de Kooning's historical presence and his work's lasting fascination. Short essays examine various aspects of nine distinct phases of his career; to each phase is appended a detailed chronology and an analysis of materials and methods used in a single representative canvas. In his idiosyncratic syntax, de Kooning once described himself as a "slipping glimpser," referring to his preference for the incomplete or provisional information that a dynamic viewpoint affords, and this teeming book aptly provides slipping glimpses of one of the giants of 20th-century painting. (Maine Stephen Art in America)
"De Kooning: A Retrospective" is a superlative exhibition. (Its catalogue is equally fantastic.) (Tyler Green Modern Art Notes/ARTINFO)
Bring open eyes and an open mind, for if you cherish the ox of any aesthetic of ideological bias, de Kooning will gore it. (Peter Schjeldahl The New Yorker)
The Museum of Modern Art's generous, even prodigal De Kooning retrospective is the most ambitious show New York has seen in a long time - a lavish, knotty and definitive tribute to a tricky and alloyed genius. (Ariella Budick Financial Times)
"...the first comprehensive look at de Kooning's work in nearly 30 years..." (Carol Vogel The New York Times)
"De Kooning: A Retrospective," at the Museum of Modern Art, is the most piercing, inexhaustible, and relentlessly intense full-on career survey I have ever seen in this country. (Jerry Saltz New York Magazine)
If you are looking for something jaw-dropping, then look no further than this sprawling retrospective devoted to one of the most important figures in 20th century American painting. (Carolina Miranda WNYC Culture)
Predictably awe-inspiring... In its scale, crème-de-la-crème editing and processional sweep, it's MoMA in excelsis, and for many people it will probably represent this institution's history-writing at its best. (Holland Cotter The New York Times)
The first retrospective since de Kooning's death in 1997, it will give us our first opportunity to experience the artist from start to almost-finish. (Kelly Devine Thomas ARTnews)
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