Willem de Kooning

Willem de KooningWillem de Kooning is one of the noted modern artists whose work became prominent in the post World War II era. He was, first and foremost, known as an abstract expressionist painter, a style of which is usually characterized by an impression of spontaneity and that of an unplanned work. De Kooning was born on April 24, 1904 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Early Years

Kooning grew up with his mother, Cornelia Nobel, with whom divorced De Kooning’s father, Leendert de Kooning when he was just five years old. He studied for eight years at the Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts and Techniques, he studied at night while working as a apprentice for a commercial art and decorating firm during the day. He later on became an assistant to the art director of a Rotterdam department store.

Move to America

In 1926, De Kooning went to America as a stowaway on the British Freighter SS Shelly that made port in Newport News, Virginia. De Kooning found his way going to New Jersey where he settled in Hoboken. He initially worked as a house painter to support himself and went on to meet some artists and fellow painters in the area. He eventually moved to a studio in Manhattan in 1927.

In 1935, De Kooning started working with the Federal Art Project at the WPA or Works Progress Administration where he stayed for two years. It provided him with the opportunity of doing creative work such as doing easel paintings and murals. By 1938, De Kooning started working on a series of works with male figures as subjects. As his work progressed, he began to make his abstractions blend with some figurative works. This continued on until the 1940’s.

Later Works

The 1940’s saw De Kooning being largely identified by then with the Abstract Expressionism movement. A solo exhibit of his works in 1948 established his reputation as a major artist. He also began to paint works having women as his subjects for abstraction. It was in the 1950’s that De Kooning began to explore the subject more exclusively. With his interesting paintings of women subjects, De Kooning caused a sensation in 1953, primarily because most other Abstract Expressionists at that time were creating chiefly abstract works of art. De Kooning did his with a figurative flair along with the abstraction of the subject typical of the movement.

After garnering several accolades for his works, De Kooning ventured into other works of art which included making sculptures. By 1963, De Kooning permanently settled in East Hampton, Long Island where he also died on March 19, 1997.

Image Source: Wikipedia

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