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Saturday, April 11, 2020

Willem de Kooning and melodrama


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Jac de Nijs


Willem de Kooning (1904-1997) was a Dutch-American painter best known for his contributions to abstract expressionism. Artist Salvador Dali said,


"Let us watch this de Kooning with his prematurely white hair making his great sleepwalker's movements, as though he was waiting in a dream to open bays of Biscay, to explode islands like pieces of orange or Parma violets, to tear continents from a cerulean blue split by oceans of Naples yellow..." (Quoted in Dali and Me by Catherine Millet)


Art critic Harold Rosenberg said,


"From 1940 to the present, Woman has manifested herself in de Kooning's paintings and drawings as at once the focus of desire frustration, inner conflict, pleasure... and as posing problems of conception and handling as demanding as those of an engineer." (Wikipedia: Willem de Kooning, 8.6.21 UTC 13:36)


The rest of this post is some quotes from de Kooning.




"Art never seems to make me peaceful or pure. I always seem to be wrapped in the melodrama of vulgarity. I do not think... of art as a situation of comfort." (Quoted in Beyond the Aesthetic by Robert Motherwell)


"If the picture has a countenance I keep it. If it hasn't, I throw it away." (Quoted in Modern Artists in America by R. Motherwell, Ad Reinhardt and B. Karpel)


Artistic freedom


"Jackson has broken the ice for us." (Quoted in Abstract Expressionism by David Anfam)


"And then there is that one-man movement, Marcel Duchamp - for me a truly modern movement because it implies that each artist can do what he thinks he ought to - a movement for each person and open for everybody." (Speech at the Museum of Modern Art, 1951)


"I'm in my element when I am a little bit out of this world. Then I'm in the real world - I'm on the beam. Because when I'm falling, I'm doing all right. When I'm slipping, I say: hey, this is interesting. It's when I'm standing upright that bothers me." (Quote from Sketchbook 1 by Time Inc.)




"The texture of experience is prior to everything else." (Quoted in Abstract Expressionism by David Anfam)


Piet Mondrian


"[Mondrian] could see a future life and a future city - not like me, who am absolutely not interested in seeing the future city. I'm perfectly happy to be alive now." (Interview with David Sylvester for BBC, 1960)