Elaine de Kooning
|Elaine de Kooning|
Elaine de Kooning in 1980
|Born||Elaine Marie Fried
March 12, 1918
Brooklyn, New York
|Died||February 1, 1989
Southampton, New York
|Movement||New York Figurative Expressionism, Abstract Expressionism|
Elaine de Kooning (March 12, 1918 – February 1, 1989) was an Abstract Expressionist and Figurative Expressionist painter in the post-World War II era. She wrote extensively on the art of the period  and was an editorial associate for Art News magazine. On December 9, 1943, she married painter Willem de Kooning.
Early life and education
Elaine de Kooning was born Elaine Marie Catherine Fried in 1918  in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, New York. Her parents were Mary Ellen O'Brien and Charles Frank Fried, a plant manager for the Bond Bread Company. She was the oldest of four children. Her artistic endeavors were supported by her mother, who took her to museums and taught her to draw what she saw. After graduating from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, she briefly attended Hunter College in New York City. Then, in 1937, she attended the Leonardo da Vinci Art School and went on to study at the American Artists School, both in New York City.
Elaine de Kooning was an accomplished landscape and portrait artist active in the Abstract Expressionism movement of the early 20th century. She was a member of the Eighth Street Club (the Club) in New York City. The Club’s members were part of the abstract expressionist movement, and the Club functioned as a space to discuss ideas. A membership position for a woman was rare at this time. Women were often marginalized in the Abstract Expressionist movement, functioning as objects and accessories to confirm the masculinity of their male counterparts. On December 9, 1943, she married Dutch action painter Willem de Kooning, whose career eventually eclipsed hers.
Elaine de Kooning was a part of the abstract expressionist movement. She chose to sign her artworks with her initials rather than her full name, to avoid her paintings being labeled as feminine in a traditionally masculine movement. She made both abstract and figurative paintings and drawings. Her earlier work comprised watercolors and still lifes, including 50 watercolor sketches inspired by a statue in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. Later in her career, her work fused abstraction with mythology, primitive imagery, and realism. Her gestural style of portraiture is often noted, although her work was mostly figurative and representational, and rarely purely abstract. She produced a diverse body of work over the course of her lifetime, including sculpture, etchings, and work inspired by cave drawings, all in addition to her many paintings. Late in life, she produced a series of paintings inspired by the paleolithic cave paintings of Lascaux in France and Altamira in Spain; these were shown at the Fischbach Gallery in November 1988. She died three months later from complications of lung cancer.
A large portion of Elaine de Kooning work was in portraiture; her subjects were often fellow artists—usually men—including poets Frank O'Hara and Allen Ginsberg, critic Harold Rosenberg, choreographer Merce Cunningham, and painters Fairfield Porter and her husband, Willem de Kooning. De Kooning also did a series of men with children, and a series of women after she resumed painting a year after John F. Kennedy’s death. Elaine de Kooning wrote, “when I painted my seated men, I saw them as gyroscopes. Portraiture always fascinated me because I love the particular gesture of a particular expression or stance...Working on the figure, I wanted paint to sweep through as feelings sweep through...” on the subject of her portraits. Her works are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
Elaine de Kooning was an important writer and teacher on art. She began working at the magazine Art News in 1948, and wrote articles about major figures in the art world. Over the course of her life, she held teaching posts at many institutions of higher education. Between 1976 and 1978, she served as the first Lamar Dodd Visiting Professor of Art at the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens. In 1985 she was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member, and became a full Academician in 1988.
Marriage to Willem de Kooning
Elaine and Willem de Kooning met in 1938, and married in 1943. They were married for more than 45 years, but were separated for much of that time.
Selected solo exhibitions
- 1952, 1954, 1956: Stable Gallery, NYC;
- 1957: Tibor de Nagy Gallery, NYC;
- 1959: Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, Connecticut;
- 1960: Ellison Gallery, Fort Worth, Texas;
- 1960, 1963, 1965, 1975: Graham Gallery, NYC;
- 1964: “25 Portraits of J.F.K.”, Peale House Gallery, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
- 1979: “Bacchus, Works on Paper”, Lauren Rogers Museum of Art and Library, Laurel, Mississippi;
- 1982, 86: Gruenebaum Gallery’ NYC;
- 1983: “Elaine de Kooning and the Bacchus Motif”, Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois;
- 1984: "Elaine de Kooning: New Paintings", C. Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, Maryland;
- 1991: “Black Mountain Paintings from 1948”, Joan T. Washburn Gallery, NYC.
Selected group exhibitions
- 1951, 1953-1957: 9th Street Art Exhibition, the first “New York Painters and Sculptors Annual Exhibition” and subsequent 5 New York Artists’ Annual Exhibitions, Stable Gallery, NYC;
- 1956: “Abstract Expressionism”, circ., by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota; “Young American Painters”, circ., The Museum of Modern Art, NYC; “Pittsburgh International”, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh;
- 1958: “Action Painting, 1958”, The Dallas Contemporary, Dallas, Texas;
- 1960: “Abstract Expressionists Painting of the Fifties”, The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota;
- 1961: The Whitney Museum of American Art Annuals and Biennials, NYC;
- 1964: “67th Annual American Exhibition: Directions in Contemporary Painting and Sculpture”, The Art Institute of Chicago;
- 1980: “The Fifties: Aspects Painting in New York”, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; "Heads: An Exhibit of Portraits", C. Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, Maryland.
- 1990: “East Hampton Avant-Garde, A Salute to the Signa Gallery”, Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, New York.
- 1959: University of New Mexico;
- 1960: The Pennsylvania State University;
- 1963-64: University of California, Davis, California;
- 1967: Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut;
- 1968: Pratt Institute;
- 1968-70: Carnegie-Mellon University;
- 1971-72: University of Pennsylvania;
- 1971: Wagner College;
- 1974: New York Studio School, Paris;
- 1974-75: Parsons School of Design, NYC;
- 1976-79: University of Georgia.
- "Elaine de Kooning". TheArtStory.org.
- Glueck, Grace (February 2, 1989). "Elaine de Kooning, Artist and Teacher, Dies at 68". New York Times.
- Swain, Martica (Autumn, 1997 - Winter, 1998). "Review". Woman's Art Journal 18 (2): 31–33. Retrieved 7 March 2015. Check date values in:
- Edvard Lieber, "Willem de Kooning: Reflections in the Studio", p.10.
- ‘’It is, No.4, Autumn, 1959.’’ Magazine for Abstract Art, Second Half Publishing Co., New York pp. 29, 30.
- American abstract and figurative expressionism : style is timely art is timeless : an illustrated survey with artists' statements, artwork and biographies. p. 75
- Glueck, Grace (2002). "Elaine de Kooning artist and teacher dies at 68". New York Times.
- Chadwick, Whitney (2012). Women, Art, & Society (5 ed.). New York: Thames & Hudson.
- "Elaine de Kooning". theartstory.org.
- "Elaine de Kooning, Artist and Teacher, Dies at 68". The New York Times.
- "The National Portrait Gallery; Elaine de Kooning: Portraits".
- Berkson, Bill (1992). "The Portraitist". Modern Painters: 40–42.
- "Elaine de Kooning (1918-1989)". New Georgia Encyclopedia.
- Grace Glueck; "Elaine de Kooning, Artist and Teacher, Dies at 68", New York Times obituary, February 2, 1989
- Paul Schimmel; Judith E Stein; Newport Harbor Art Museum, The Figurative fifties: New York figurative expressionism (Newport Beach, California: Newport Harbor Art Museum; New York: Rizzoli, 1988); ISBN 0-8478-0942-0, ISBN 978-0-8478-0942-4, ISBN 0-917493-12-5, ISBN 978-0-917493-12-6
- Lee Hall, Elaine and Bill, portrait of a marriage : the lives of Willem and Elaine de Kooning, (New York, New York : HarperCollins Pub., ©1993.) ISBN 0-06-018305-5
- Marika Herskovic, American Abstract and Figurative Expressionism: Style Is Timely Art Is Timeless (New York School Press, 2009); ISBN 978-0-9677994-2-1 pp. 72–75
- Marika Herskovic, American Abstract Expressionism of the 1950s An Illustrated Survey, (New York School Press, 2003); ISBN 0-9677994-1-4; pp. 90–93
- Marika Herskovic, New York School Abstract Expressionists Artists Choice by Artists, (New York School Press, 2000); ISBN 0-9677994-0-6; p. 8, 16, 25, 36, 102-105
- The Spirit of Abstract Expressionism Selected Writings; ISBN 0-8076-1337-1
- Edvard Lieber, Willem de Kooning: Reflections in the Studio, (New York, New York, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2000); ISBN 0-8109-4560-6
- Huffington Post, "Elaine de Kooning Birthday: 10 Things You Didn't Know About the Great Abstract Expressionist," March 12, 2013