Willem de Kooning: Drawn and Painted

On view through March 19, 2017

The installation in this gallery comprises paintings of the late 1960s through 1970s by the Dutch-born American artist Willem de Kooning (1904–1997), on loan from The Willem de Kooning Foundation in New York.

All of these works reveal the intimate relationship between the drawn and the painted in de Kooning’s practice. Some clearly were composed with the aid of line drawing. Others combine relatively thin charcoal lines and broad areas of paint, and still others are drawn from chains or clusters of cursive brushstrokes of varying widths. Obviously, the less completed works have the stronger graphic presence, and the more completed ones the richer painterly presence, but all of them interweave varied graphic and painterly effects in often-complex ways.

Cursive, non-geometric drawing implies figuration, and here it shapes either an entire body or, more frequently, assemblies of parts of bodies—some readily deciphered, particularly hands and feet, others that take longer to recognize or that resist decipherment entirely. At times, the bodily forms are contained within the frame; at others they press out to its edges.

These and related paintings have been the focus of the Fall 2016 seminar Art 494, taught by Professor John Elderfield, and this selection was made by its six students: Julia Bernstein, Joe Sheehan, Malcolm Steinberg, Chandler Sterling, Simon Wu, and Margot Yale, all Class of 2017. Explore video produced by the students by clicking through on the artworks below.

This installation is presented in collaboration with The Willem de Kooning Foundation. The Foundation utilizes its collection for scholarly and educational purposes, in this case providing the opportunity to study works in which de Kooning’s processes and experimentation remain clearly exposed. Research on the exhibited works is ongoing.