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Willem de Kooning

Netherlands Born in: 1904 Masterpieces

Originally from Holland, born in Rotterdam in 1904, Willem de Kooning is a famous American painter, sculptor and illustrator. He is considered as one of the precursors to abstract expressionism. After studying at the Academy of Fine Arts and Applied Sciences in Rotterdam, he decided to emigrate to the United States. He arrived illegally in New York in 1926 at the age of 21. He became an American citizen in 1962.

Throughout his career, Willem de Kooning met many artists, both American and European, who had a huge influence on his work. Attracted by abstract art, he was particularly inspired by the work of Joan Miro and Picasso. In 1943, he married American artist Elaine Fried.

Willem de Kooning was, above all, a painter of people. Faces and bodies are entangled in a mixture of gouache, watercolours and pastels. His series of paintings called “Women" propelled him to stardom on the international stage. “Woman V" was sold to the Australian National Gallery in Canberra for $850,000, the highest price ever recorded for a living American artist. There was a new record nine years later for his “Two Women" painting, which Christie's acquired for $1.21 million. In 1955, “Interchange" was put up for auction at Sotheby's and was sold for $20.8 million. This same work of art was sold again in 2015 by the Geffen Foundation to the pension fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin for $300 million: the most expensive painting in the world today.

After separating from Elaine in 1955, he began a series of abstract urban landscapes.

Willem de Kooning exhibited his work all over the world, in some of the most prestigious museums and institutions. MoMa in New York was the first to buy one of his canvases in 1948. The Tate Gallery in London followed suit, along with the Chicago Art Institute and many others.

The artist died in 1997 on Long Island, at the age of 92.

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Few works remaining by Willem de Kooning

These are the last remaining works by Willem de Kooning.
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Willem de Kooning, Rainbow: Thelonious Monk, Devil at the Keyboard, Print

Willem de Kooning

Rainbow: Thelonious Monk, Devil at the Keyboard, 1976
90.2 x 62.2 cm


Willem de Kooning, Two Women, Print

Willem de Kooning

Two Women, 1973
34.9 x 28.9 cm


Willem de Kooning, Weekend at Mr. and Mrs. Krisher, Print

Willem de Kooning

Weekend at Mr. and Mrs. Krisher, 1970
108 x 76.2 cm


Willem de Kooning, Untitled (Litho #5), Print

Willem de Kooning

Untitled (Litho #5), 1966
56.5 x 45.7 cm


Willem de Kooning doesn’t have any exhibitions.

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