Oct
21

Today in Smithsonian History: October 21, 1993

Artist Willem de Kooning in his studio, 1961. Photographer unknown

Artist Willem de Kooning in his studio, 1961. Photographer unknown

October 21, 1993 The exhibition Willem de Kooning from the Hirshhorn Museum Collection, opens at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and will be on view through January 9, 1994. The exhibition, an extensive tour of 50 works charting the Dutch-born American artist’s development from 1939-1985, will also travel to Barcelona, Atlanta, Boston and Houston.

Willem de Kooning is widely known for his masterful yet highly idiosyncratic working methods. Less recognized is the extent to which he employed unconventional as well as traditional materials in his paintings to achieve specific visual effects. Focusing on his famous images of women executed over three decades, this research project was undertaken to determine the degree to which the artist’s important shifts in style corresponded to changes in his technical procedures. Queen of Hearts, 1943–46,is an early representation of the female subject. Woman, 1948, embodies the type of painting that de Kooning produced from the late 1940s into the early 1950s. Woman, Sag Harbor, 1964, typifies the artist’s treatment of the figure after 1960.

Queen of Hearts, painted over three years between 1943 and 1946, is a transitional work that both evidences de Kooning’s rigorous training and heralds his signature Women of the late 1940s and 1950s. Examination and technical analysis of the painting demonstrate that it evolved through a series of clearly discernible stages that reveal a fusion of traditional approaches to picture-making with less conventional materials and practices characteristic of much of the artist’s later work.

Untitled (1959) Willem de Kooning, American, b. Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 1904–1997 Oil and pencil on paperboard, 23 1/16 x 29 1/16 in. (58.6 x 73.8 cm) Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, Gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 1966

Untitled (1959) Willem de Kooning, American, b. Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 1904–1997Oil and pencil on paperboard, 23 1/16 x 29 1/16 in. (58.6 x 73.8 cm)Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, Gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 1966

Woman 1953 Willem de Kooning, American, b. Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 1904–1997 Oil and charcoal on paper mounted on canvas, 25 5/8 x 19 5/8 in. (64.9 x 49.8 cm) Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, Gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 1966

Woman (1953) Willem de Kooning, American, b. Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 1904–1997Oil and charcoal on paper mounted on canvas, 25 5/8 x 19 5/8 in. (64.9 x 49.8 cm)Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, Gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 1966

Willem de Kooning, American, b. Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 1904–1997 Oil and charcoal on fiberboard, 46 1/8 x 27 5/8 in. (117 x 70 cm) Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, Gift of the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Foundation, 1966

Queen of Hearts (1943 – 1946) Willem de Kooning, American, b. Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 1904–1997Oil and charcoal on fiberboard, 46 1/8 x 27 5/8 in. (117 x 70 cm)Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, Gift of the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Foundation, 1966

Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution Archives and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden


Posted: 21 October 2017
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