Willem de Kooning Re-Writes Modernism at MoMA
There is no doubt that Willem de Kooning (l904-l997) is one of the most significant artists of the New York School. In this exhibition that will continue through January 12, 2012 at the Museum of Modern Art of almost 200 works within seven decades of the artist’s development the viewer can certainly agree with the curator John Elderfield that “de Kooning opened radical options for painting that ask us to reconsider how its modernist history should be told.” Here is an artist who worked not only in painting but also on drawings, prints, sculptures and created unusual works on paper. He is an artist who made statements about art that were always forceful and provocative. In 1949, for instance, he declared that “flesh was the reason why oil painting was invented.” And he believed in change in art, its constant new refinements. “Art,” he said, “should not have to be a certain way.” And in these seven decades of the artist’s work, by way of seven galleries, it is clear that his art is not done only in one way. Abstraction sits side by side with figuration, and both are glowing art. Consider, for example, his “Pink Angels” (1945).