Pieter Hoogendijk Antiquairs
Willem de Kooning became with Jackson Pollock one of the leaders of Action Painting, a movement within the Abstract Expressionism, that emergerd in New York City during the mid-1940's. European artists like Léger, Mondriaan and Duchamps and surrealists like Breton, Dali en Ernst had fled to the United States due to the breakout of the Second World War. Their presence gave a new artistic impulse to New York and influenced the new development of Abstract Expressionism.The glorification of the act of painting itself as a means of visual communication was one of the most important elements; the attempt to transfer pure emotion directly onto the canvas; qualities of brushstrokes and textures, the use of huge canvases..
Action Painting is one of the significant streams of Abstract Expressionism.
The term 'Action Painting' was used for the first time in 1952 to describe the works of painters such as Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. The life energy and the psyche of the painter were at once the driving force, the resource and the meaning of the works. The canvas was seen as an arena. Painting became an irrational, instinctive and impulsive moment of existence. The Action Painting work thus turned into the form and trace of the living body, conveying split-second action and motion.
Willem de Kooning exhibited together with Jackon Pollock for the first time in 1942. De Kooning's first solo exhibition of black-and white abstractions was held in 1947 and by 1950 he had become a key figure of abstract As an action painter, he tried to capture a sense of energy and emotion in his work. In doing so, he alternated between abstract and figural painting. He had the ability to move between figurative and abstract modes. While much of his work resembles the total abstraction of painters Jackson Pollock, his best pieces combine the chaos of expressionism with more traditional forms.
His first solo exhibition in 1948 included a number of the allover black-and white abstractions. The 'Women' of the early 1950s were followed by abstract urban landscapes, 'Parkways', rural landscapes, and in the 1960, a new group of 'Women'.
De Koonings international breakthrough came with Documenta 2 (1959), 3
(1964) and 6 (1970) in Kassel. In 1963 he moved permanently to his new own designed atelier in East Hampton Long Island. Here he changes his style. No more large straight moves from the urband landscapes and new were the curly smaller light coloured brush strokes. He became more free in his way of finishing paintings. De Kooning also started working on imprints of his paintings on newspaper and vellum.
Inspired by the Atlantic Ocean he finds a balance between the explosive drama and the almost acquiescent, free swinging motion of color. The present work (ca 1970) is an excellent example of this development. His painting reverts to his source, and is nothing more than a ultimate condensing of color and line.
His motto was; "I don't paint to live, I live to paint".