Willem De Kooning

Willem de Kooning was born in 1904, and he was a Dutch-American Abstract Expressionist Artist. After World War II Kooning became particularly well known for his abstract expressionist work alongside the likes of other notable artists at the time such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko (Tate, 2021). Abstract Expressionism was about tapping into the unconscious mind and using gestural mark making moved by spontaneity, capturing human emotion within the canvas (Tate, 2021).

The Visit 1966-7 Willem de Kooning 1904-1997 Purchased 1969 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T01108

I really enjoy abstract expressionist work in how it captures the beauty and sensitivity of the artists movements and feelings through their choice of colour and brush strokes. In “The Visit” we can see cool muted blues, bursting up against warm yellows and terracottas, with earthy greens above. Throughout the composition there is a speckling and flecking of paint darting around the canvas. Looking closer at the image we can begin to decipher an image of a woman squatting, possibly with a distorted face, as well as a second figure in the top right gazing over her (Ibbett, 2017).

Women Singing II 1966 Willem de Kooning 1904-1997 Presented by the artist through the American Federation of Arts 1970 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T01178

Again looking at the image above we can see a beautiful use of colour, golden yellows sit underneath a creamy pastel swathe of colour, and a turquoise sea-blue propping them up underneath. This painting is entitled “Women Singing” and we can indeed identify two women seemingly with their hands held towards their mouths singing their hearts out!

Untitled, Rachel Matton, 2020

It’s interesting that I have only recent began to look more closely at Kooning’s work as I have always enjoyed his work at first glance, however I wasn’t fully aware of his series combining his abstract expressionism work with the female form. I have myself produced a body of work where I have used life drawing sketches of women as my starting point for abstract work. Upon reflection I believe that I fall more into the category of abstract expressionism as I often feel my way through the process without a clear direction for what the end piece might look like. Although there is a freeing under layer in my work full of energy and impulse followed by a controlled and calming top layer where I paint more thoughtfully with decisive action.

Untitled, Rachel Matton, 2020


Tate, 2021, Willem de Kooning, viewed 19/07/2021, [https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/willem-de-kooning-1433]

Tate, 2021, Abstract Expressionism, viewed 19/07/2021, [https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/a/abstract-expressionism]

Ibbett, 2017, Willem de Kooning’s ‘The Visit’, viewed 19/07/2021, [https://artuk.org/discover/stories/willem-de-koonings-the-visit]

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