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WILLEM DE KOONING (1904-1997)

 
WILLEM DE KOONING - Woman in a Rowboat - oil on paper laid on masonite - 47 1/2 x 36 1/4 in. WILLEM DE KOONING - Woman in a Rowboat - oil on paper laid on masonite - 47 1/2 x 36 1/4 in. WILLEM DE KOONING - Woman in a Rowboat - oil on paper laid on masonite - 47 1/2 x 36 1/4 in. WILLEM DE KOONING - Woman in a Rowboat - oil on paper laid on masonite - 47 1/2 x 36 1/4 in. WILLEM DE KOONING - Woman in a Rowboat - oil on paper laid on masonite - 47 1/2 x 36 1/4 in. WILLEM DE KOONING - Woman in a Rowboat - oil on paper laid on masonite - 47 1/2 x 36 1/4 in. WILLEM DE KOONING - Woman in a Rowboat - oil on paper laid on masonite - 47 1/2 x 36 1/4 in. WILLEM DE KOONING - Woman in a Rowboat - oil on paper laid on masonite - 47 1/2 x 36 1/4 in. WILLEM DE KOONING - Woman in a Rowboat - oil on paper laid on masonite - 47 1/2 x 36 1/4 in. WILLEM DE KOONING - Woman in a Rowboat - oil on paper laid on masonite - 47 1/2 x 36 1/4 in.
Woman in a Rowboat196447 1/2 x 36 1/4 in.(120.65 x 92.08 cm) oil on paper laid on masonite
Provenance
Allan Stone Gallery, New York
Private Collection, New York
Private Collection, Arizona
Exhibition
North Hampton, Smith College Museum of Art; Cambridge, The New Gallery, Charles Hayden Memorial Library, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Willem de Kooning: a Retrospective from Public and Private Collections, April – June 1965 (Cambridge only) New York, Allan Stone Gallery, De Kooning/Cornell, February – March 1965
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, American Paintings, September - October 1966, cat. no. 26
Dublin, The Ro
...More...yal Dublin Society, Rosc'67:The Poetry of Vision, November – December 1967, p. 201, illustrated
Detroit, J.L. Hudson, Willem de Kooning: Three Decades of Painting, March – April 1968, no. 31 (exhibition checklist)
Easthampton, Gild Hall, Works from 1951 – 1981, May – July 1981, cat. no 21 (exhibition checklist)
Literature
Thomas B. Hess, "De Kooning's New Women," Art News, March 1965, p. 37 (text reference) Exh. Cat., Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Willem de Kooning: Paintings, 1994, fig. 15, p. 15, illustrated
Exh. Cat., Allan Stone Gallery, Willem de Kooning:Liquefying Cubism, 1994, p. VII, illustrated (installation photograph from the 1965 De Kooning/Cornell exhibition)
Exh. Cat., Museum of Modern Art, Willem de Kooning: A Retrospective, 2011, fig. 7, p. 356, illustrated.
John Elderfield, “de Kooning: A Retrospective,” Museum of Modern Art – New York, 2011- 2012, p. 356
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“The figure is nothing unless you twist it around like a strange miracle.” – Willem de Kooning

History

Willem de Kooning is one of the most celebrated American artists, not least for his pioneering work developing the Abstract Expressionist movement. Emerging from the destruction of World War II, the loosely associated movement worked through the trauma of the past and the anxiety of a new present. Along with Jackson Pollock, De Kooning helped to cultivate the action painting branch in which artists appeared to attack the canvas with bold and dynamic brushwork.

Nevertheless, this label of abstraction never sat well with de Kooning as figuration always played a role in his process, ebbing and flowing at various points in the 1930s and 1940s. Thus, it was his first Woman series in the early 1950s that cemented de Kooning’s legacy. With this series, de Kooning fused the techniques of Abstract Expressionism with representative figuration.

Despite this leap in art history, the series was not without controversy. For some, it was a betrayal of the tenets of abstraction. For others, it was the grotesqueness of the women that seemed degrading and violent. But it was Clement Greenberg, the art critic that defined and promoted Abstract Expressionism, who championed this series; for the critic, de Kooning pushed modernism by imbuing abstraction with “the power of sculptural color.” The bold brushstrokes and expressive colors seem to carve out the women on the canvas while conveying a sense of energy that captured the anxieties of the artist and of the times.

Rather than break with art history, the Woman series rooted itself within a lineage of artists painting women (and particularly nude women). For example, both de Kooning and Picasso reimagined the female form and developed new approaches to brushwork, yet maintained a link to the history of female nudes. And like Picasso, de Kooning deconstructed conventional notions of proportion, tossing aside geometry for closer psychological examinations and boundary-pushing technique that explored the possibility of the visual plane.

More
  • WDK-Woman-I-web
    Willem de Kooning (1904-1997), “Woman I”, 1952, oil and metallic paint on canvas, 6′ 3 7/8″ x 58″, Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • WDK-Walker-web
    Willem de Kooning (1904-1997), “Woman in Rowboat”, c. 1965, charcoal on paper, 24 x 18 3/4 in., Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
  • rausch-web
    Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), “Erased de Kooning Drawing”, 1953, drawing, 25 1/4 in. x 21 3/4 in., San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
  • Picasso-web
    Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”, Paris, June-July 1907, oil on canvas, 8′ x 7′ 8″, Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • WDK-1965-exhibition
    Installation View: “de Kooning/Cornell”, February 2-March 13, 1965, Allan Stone Gallery (“Woman in a Rowboat”, far right)

Top Results at Auction

“Woman as Landscape” (c. 1954-1955), oil and charcoal on canvas, 65 1/2 x 49 3/8 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 13 November 2018 for $68,937,500 USD
“Woman as Landscape” (c. 1954-1955), oil and charcoal on canvas, 65 1/2 x 49 3/8 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 13 November 2018 for $68,937,500 USD
“Untitled XXV” (1977), oil on canvas, 77 x 88 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 15 November 2016 for $44,327,500 USD
“Untitled XXV” (1977), oil on canvas, 77 x 88 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 15 November 2016 for $44,327,500 USD
“Untitled VIII” (1977), oil on canvas, 70 x 80 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 12 November 2013 for $32,085,000 USD
“Untitled VIII” (1977), oil on canvas, 70 x 80 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 12 November 2013 for $32,085,000 USD
“Untitled XXII” (1977), oil on canvas, 70 x 80 in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: 14 November 2019 for $30,105,800 USD
“Untitled XXII” (1977), oil on canvas, 70 x 80 in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: 14 November 2019 for $30,105,800 USD

Comparable Paintings Sold at Auction

“Woman and Child” (1967-1968), oil on paper laid down on canvas, 55 x 36  in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 11 May 2011 for $6,578,000 USD
“Woman and Child” (1967-1968), oil on paper laid down on canvas, 55 x 36 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 11 May 2011 for $6,578,000 USD
  • Like “Woman in Rowboat” this is a highly desirable “Woman” subject 
  • Also executed on paper and laid to a support 
  • Comparable size
“Yellow Woman” (1952), oil, tempera, charcoal, and graphite on paper. 8 ¾ x 6 in.  Sold at Sotheby’s, New York: 12 May 2015 for $6,410,000 USD
“Yellow Woman” (1952), oil, tempera, charcoal, and graphite on paper. 8 ¾ x 6 in. Sold at Sotheby’s, New York: 12 May 2015 for $6,410,000 USD
  • This work measures a mere 9 x 6 inches but achieved the staggering sum of 6.4 million USD because of the importance of the Woman subject and period 
  • This painting is quite small, and a work on paper 
  • This result is one of the highest prices paid per square inch for any abstract painting in history
“Two Women (Study for Clamdigger)” (1961-1962), oil on paper laid on masonite. 23 x 28 1/2 in.  Sold at Christie’s, New York: 09 May 2006 for $5,728,000 USD
“Two Women (Study for Clamdigger)” (1961-1962), oil on paper laid on masonite. 23 x 28 1/2 in. Sold at Christie’s, New York: 09 May 2006 for $5,728,000 USD
  • This work is also an oil on paper laid down to Masonite 
  • Comparable date of execution 
  • Another example from de Kooning’s “Woman” series 

Paintings in Museum Collections

“The Visit” (1966-1967), oil on canvas, 60 x 48 in., The Tate London
“The Visit” (1966-1967), oil on canvas, 60 x 48 in., The Tate London
“Woman and Bicycle” (1952-1953), oil, enamel, and charcoal on linen, 76 ½ x 49 1/8 in., The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
“Woman and Bicycle” (1952-1953), oil, enamel, and charcoal on linen, 76 ½ x 49 1/8 in., The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Valentine (1947), Oil and enamel on paper on board, 36 x 24 1/4 in., Museum of Modern Art, New York
Valentine (1947), Oil and enamel on paper on board, 36 x 24 1/4 in., Museum of Modern Art, New York

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