Willem de Kooning American/Dutch, 1904-1997


Willem de Kooning was born in the Netherlands, and immigrated to New Jersey in 1926, working as a house painter before moving to New York where he became friends with Arshile Gorky. In 1935 he worked for Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration, but was forced to resign in 1937 due to his foreign citizenship and decided to paint full time.


In 1938 de Kooning started his first Women series, which would become a major recurrent theme. During the 1940s he began to paint expressively figurative and abstract pieces, becoming involved with the New York Abstract Expressionists through several group shows. His first solo exhibition in the late 1940s established his name as a major artist, and his controversial Women series brought him international recognition. He continued to paint, experimenting between figuration and abstraction, altering his style dramatically from one year to another.


The artist died in 1997, in East Hampton.