Willem de Kooning’s Paint Splattered Ladies

Excavation - 1949

Woman - 1949

Willem de Kooning created some of the most powerful paintings I have ever seen. I’ve only come across a relatively small number of de Kooning work in person, not counting books and whatnot, but whenever I see one of his paintings they always manage to catch my eye and it is hard to escape. They are just so enjoyable to look at.

I sometimes wonder why. Looking at the work here on the internet or in a book, the artwork seems like it might be easy to dismiss. On some level, I wonder if the artwork isn’t kind of ugly, and I guess some people might think so. His women are all over the place with paint splattered everywhere, often with the only recognizable thing being their big smiles and eyes. And then you start looking and see all this incredible color and paint and texture. Then you step back and say “Holy Cow!”, then forward, then back.  Before you know it you’re trapped in the painting.

Seated Woman - 1940

One of my personal favorite paintings by de Kooning is the top-most image in this post called “Excavation”. I saw this piece in Las Vegas of all places, and it was lovely. De Kooning is probably the most well know for the abstract paintings of women that I’ve already mentioned.

De Kooning was born and studied art in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, but eventually moved to New York. In 1938, de Kooning’s work became more and more abstract. By the time Abstract Expressionism was fully established as an artistic movement in the 40’s and 50’s, de Kooning was recognized and one of it’s founders and most influential members. Toward the end of his life, de Kooning’s work became more and more graphical. In the 80’s, de Kooning became another victim of Alzheimer’s disease. Willem de Kooning died in 1997, but his paintings live on, and they are traps for my eye and imagination.

Woman 1 - 1950

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