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120 Main Street, Upton MA 01568-6193

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Last updated: 1/25/2017
Home / Gallery Tour 1 /Womanshow 2006 / Gallery Tour 2 / Artists
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Elaine de Kooning (American, 1920-1988): Pastels and lithographs

Jennifer Bartlett, Lynda Benglis, Louise Bourgeois, Jonna Rae Brinkman, Louisa Chase, Chryssa / Sue Coe, Susan Crile,
Lesley Dill, Helen Frankenthaler, Jane Freilicher, Nancy Graves, Harmony Hammond, Judy Chicago,
Anita Jung, Elaine de Kooning, Joyce Kozloff, Lee Krasner, Karen Kunc, Ellen Lanyon, Georgia Marsh, Suzanne McClelland,
Phyllis McGibbon, Joan Mitchell, Elizabeth Murray, Judith Murray, Louise Nevelson, Judy Pfaff,
Jaune Quick-to-see Smith, Joan Root, Susan Rothenberg, Betye Saar, Niki de St. Phalle, Hollis Sigler, Kiki Smith,
Joan Snyder, Pat Steir, May Stevens, Dorothea Tanning, and Emmi Whitehorse

Womanshow 2006
Heroic Poetry: Jonna Rae Brinkman / Elaine de Kooning / Willem de Kooning / Helen Frankenthaler / Joan Miró
Joan Mitchell / Louise Nevelson / Joan Snyder / Antoni Tàpies
As Rose Slivka has noted, "Elaine de Kooning belongs at the center of the great American art movement—Abstract Expressionism—as it emerged in New York in the 1940s and 1950s and galvanized international culture. As an artist, a writer, and the wife of painter Willem de Kooning . . . she lived at the source. She became not only its interpretor, she became its very voice." In her essays, mostly for ARTnews, she wrote about the artists she admired and whose works had moved her; her subjects included Alberto Giacometti, Hans Hofmann, Joseph Albers, Stuart Davis, Franz Kline, Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and her husband. Although her work was less acclaimed than her husband's, both as a critic for ARTnews and as an artis, she produced a significant body of work. Unlike many of her contemporaries, she never abandoned realism completely. In fact, much of her career was devoted to portraitism. She held guest professorships at Yale and Carnegie Mellon University and painted the portrait of John F. Kennedy for the Truman Library. Kennedy was assassinated during the creation of this work, impacting on her to a degree that she stopped painting for one year.

Although her work was less acclaimed than her husband's, both as an artist and critic for ARTnews, she produced a significant body of work. Unlike many of her contemporaries, she never abandoned realism completely. In fact, much of her career was devoted to portraits. She held guest professorships at Yale and Carnegie Mellon University and painted the portrait of John F. Kennedy for the Truman Library. Kennedy was assassinated during the creation of this work, impacting on her to a degree that she stopped painting for one year. As an artist, her main artistic activity was painting and she made very few prints, and those mostly to accompany or to celebrate her friends like poet/curator Frank O'Hara and poet/critic John Ashbery.

Elaine de Kooning was born as Elaine Marie Fried in Brooklyn, New York. During her youth, her artistic side was encouraged by her mother, who took her to museums and taught her to draw what she saw. She began to study with Conrad Marca-Relli and met Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, and Milton Resnick at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School, New York in 1937, but switched soon to the American Artist School. In 1938, she became Willem de Kooning's student, and, in 1943, his wife. In the 1940s, they were a typical artist couple, living in extreme poverty but producing an astonishing amount of works. The de Koonings marriage was a difficult one. Both had significant problems with alcohol. They lived apart for several years in the 1960s, and both had a number of sexual relationships with other partners, though they never divorced. However, their strong emotional bindings led them back together, especially when Elaine overcame her alcoholism and helped Willem on his own path to sobriety. Elaine was a chain smoker, which eventually led to her death from lung cancer, aged 70.

Selected Bibliography: Jane Bledsoe, ed; essays by Lawrence Campbell, Helen a Harrison, Rose Slivka, Elaine De Kooning: Essays by Lawrence Campbell, Helen a Harrison, Rose Slivka (Athens: University of Georgia Art Museum, 1992); Jill Rachelle Chancey, Elaine de Kooning: Negotiating the masculinity of abstract expressionism (Lawrence: University of Kansas, 2006); Elaine De Kooning, The Spirit of Abstract Expressionism, Selected Writings (NY: George Braziller, 1994); Elaine de Kooning: Portraits (NY: Salander O'Reilly Galleries, 1999); Lee Hall, Elaine and Bill, Portrait of a Marriage: The Lives of Willem and Elaine De Kooning (HarperCollins: NY, 1993).
John Ashbery. Original lithograph, 1984. 175 signed & numbered impressions of which twenty five were reserved for contributors (including Richard Avedon, Jim Dine, Willem de Kooning, Elaine de Kooning, Jane Freilicher, Alex Katz, R. B. Kitaj, and Larry Rivers) to a deluxe edition of John Ashbery's Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. Image size: 387mm diameter. Price: $3000.
On the way to San Remo. Original lithograph, 1967. 2500 impressions for a memorial tribute to the poet and art critic, Frank O'Hara, published in a speecial portfolio by the Museum of Modern Art. Image size: 303x227mm. Price: $500.
A rainy Nan[tucket] afternoon (MI6137-1). Original pastel. Titled, signed "E. de Kooning," and given a work number in green marker on the brown paper formerly on the back of the frame. A charming life study of a young girl. Image size: 275x160mm. Price: SOLD.
Title, work number, and signature from brown paper on back of original frame.

Spaightwood Galleries, Inc.

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