WILLEM DE KOONING
1904 – 1997
Willem de Kooning is an American-Dutch painter and a major member of the abstract expressionist movement. Perhaps best known for his paintings of women, his famous painting Woman I (1950 – 1952) has a highly elaborate surface mixed with his signature gestural style. Although considered shocking at the time because of its aggressiveness, today the painting is recognised as a turning point in American art and is part of the permanent collection of the MoMA of New York. Born on 24 April 1904 in Rotterdam, Netherlands, he emigrated to the United States at the age of 22 as a stowaway on a cargo ship. When he arrived in New York, he became friends with Arshile Gorky, Franz Kline and Elaine de Kooning, whom he married on 9 December 1943. Widely recognised for his contribution to the development of action painting, Kooning retired in 1963 to a farm and studio in East Hampton. He continued to paint in spite of his long battle against alcoholism and the works he produced later were characterised by simplicity and used fewer marks and colours than his early works. He died on March 19, 1997 at his home in East Hampton.