Willem de Kooning

When de Kooning Was King
The Dutch Abstract Expressionist re-defined New York cool.

When he returned to New York in the fall of 1956, not long after Jackson Pollock’s fatal car crash. The art world was now prepared to crown as its unrivaled leader the Dutchman who had arrived in America more than 30 years before as a penniless stowaway aboard a freighter from Rotterdam. New York had replaced Paris as the center of modern art, or so many critics and painters regularly proclaimed. If New York could not have Picasso, it must have its own reigning genius. The New York scene jelled on de Kooning’s doorstep. Throughout the fifties, young artists poured into the city, typically settling in the area becoming known as “Tenth Street,” a low-rent section of the Village between 8th and 12th streets and First and Sixth avenues. The center of the district was known as “de Kooning street”.


Willem de Kooning
b. 1904, Rotterdam, the Netherlands; d. 1997, East Hampton, N.Y.

From 1916 to 1925 he studied at night at the Academie van Beeldende Kunsten en Technische Wetenschappen, Rotterdam, while apprenticed to a commercial art and decorating firm and later working for an art director. In 1924 he visited museums in Belgium and studied further in Brussels and Antwerp. De Kooning came to the United States in 1926 and settled briefly in Hoboken, New Jersey. He worked as a house painter before moving to New York in 1927, where he met Stuart Davis, Arshile Gorky, and John Graham. He took various commercial art and odd jobs until 1935, when he was employed in the mural and easel divisions of the WPA Federal Art Project. Thereafter he painted full time. In the late 1930s his abstract and figurative work was primarily influenced by the Cubism and Surrealism of Pablo Picasso and also by Gorky, with whom he shared a studio.De Kooning became the
leading figure of the Abstract Expressionist School. He settled in the Springs, East Hampton, Long Island, in 1963.

inside this studio,
East Hampton, ny



de Kooning: A Retrospective
September 18, 2011–January 9, 2012

This is the first major museum exhibition devoted to the full scope of his career
Bringing together nearly 200 works from public and private collections, the exhibition will occupy the Museum’s entire sixth-floor gallery space, totaling approximately 17,000 square feet. Representing nearly every type of work de Kooning made, in both technique and subject matter, this retrospective includes paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints. Among these are the artist’s most famous, landmark paintings-



  1. beautiful - much thanks scribbs, this is the stuff that keeps me going artistically - sign me up for the road trip!

  2. just came from the 6th floor of Moma.. this man has a great force in his soul... his paintings are a piece of alot.. thank you for your blog!

  3. I would have gone had I known earlier... I've only seen one of his paintings in a museum. I think that was somewhere in Connecticut. Anyway, seeing these and his studios is very inspiring. What an extraordinary artist. Thanks for this. Ugh... just rereading that little blurb of history.. *sigh*.. those were the days.