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Willem de Kooning (American b. Holland, 1904-1997) Untitled (Three Women) c. 1948 Oil and crayon on thick white paper adhered to board Gift of Mrs. Richard Deutsch (Katherine W. Sanford, Class of 1940)

Off-Campus: de Kooning at MoMA

Today’s post comes from Julie MacDonald, Class of 2012 and Art Center Student Docent.

Currently on display at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is an exhibition of the works of Willem de Kooning. De Kooning: A Retrospective features works that cover the entirety of the artist’s career. Inclusive of early student works as well as the more developed products of a mature artist, the exhibition features nearly every facet of de Kooning’s oeuvre. The impressive depth and range of the exhibition, is due to the assembly of nearly 200 paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures from collections around the world. One such work is a piece from the permanent collection here at the Art Center.

Untitled (Three Women) is an energetic piece created in 1948, a period of transition in de Kooning’s career. During this time, he begins to move away from the representational depiction of a single figure within an architectural space, and experiments more freely with abstraction. Limbs are expressive of their motion, rather than their appearance and radiate with energy, nothing is static. Color is used to create an abstracted architectural space for the figures and line is given more strength and emphasis within the composition, instead of the earlier use of color and form. The stark contrast of the white of the women’s flesh and the black of the lines defining their contours, foretells his later exploration of black-and-white paintings like that of Black and White Rome F currently on display in the Art Center.
The display of works from across the full range of de Kooning’s career emphasizes the transformational development of his art. De Kooning: A Retrospective provides a wonderful opportunity to study the many facets of an artist that may not always be present in a single art collection.

de Kooning: A Retrospective is on display at the Museum of Modern Art from Septebmer 18, 2011 utnil January 9, 2012.

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