Gotham Logo Gotham Logo  
 
About The Gotham Center
Recent Books on NYC History
back to book list
De Kooning: An American Master
by Mark Stevens, Willem De Kooning, Annalyn Swan
Publisher: A.A. Knopf 2004
Category: Non-fiction20th centuryImmigrationManhattanNeighborhoodsPhotography/Art/Design
Avg Rating: (0 reviews)
Willem de Kooning is one of the most important artists of the twentieth century, a true "painter's painter" whose protean work continues to inspire many artists. In the thirties and forties, along with Arshile Gorky and Jackson Pollock, he became a key figure in the revolutionary American movement of abstract expressionism. Of all the painters in that group, he worked the longest and was the most prolific, creating powerful, startling images well into the 1980s. The first major biography of de Kooning captures both the life and work of this complex, romantic figure in American culture. Ten years in the making, and based on previously unseen letters and documents as well as on hundreds of interviews, this is a fresh, richly detailed, and masterful portrait. The young de Kooning overcame an unstable, impoverished, and often violent early family life to enter the Academie in Rotterdam, where he learned both classic art and guild techniques. Arriving in New York as a stowaway from Holland in 1926, he underwent a long struggle to become a painter and an American, developing a passionate friendship with his fellow immigrant Arshile Gorky, who was both a mentor and an inspiration. During the Depression, de Kooning emerged as a central figure in the bohemian world of downtown New York, surviving by doing commercial work and painting murals for the WPA. His first show at the Egan Gallery in 1948 was a revelation. Soon, the critics Harold Rosenberg and Thomas Hess were championing his work, and de Kooning took his place as the charismatic leader of the New York school--just as American art began to dominate the international scene. Dashingly handsome and treated like a movie star on thestreets of downtown New York, de Kooning had a tumultuous marriage to Elaine de Kooning, herself a fascinating character of the period. At the height of his fame, he spent his days painting powerful abstractions and intense, disturbing pictures of the female figure--and his nights living on the edge, drinking, womanizing, and talking at the Cedar bar with such friends as Franz Kline and Frank O'Hara. By the 1960s, exhausted by the feverish art world, he retreated to the Springs on Long Island, where he painted an extraordinary series of lush pastorals. In the 1980s, as he slowly declined into what was almost certainly Alzheimer's, he created a vast body of haunting and ethereal late work. This is an authoritative and brilliant exploration of the art, life, and world of an American master.

Reviews

(none)

Write a Review

On a scale of 1 to 5 stars, with 5 stars being the best,
How do you rate this book?
Please enter a title for your review:
Type your review in the space below:

Search Books
 

Featured Books

Trying Leviathan: The Nineteenth-Century New York Court Case That Put the Whale on Trial and Challenged the Order of Nature
by D. Graham Burnett
More

740 Park: The Story of the World's Richest Apartment Building
by Michael Gross
More

A House On The Heights
by Truman Capote
More

A Moment in the Sun
by John Sayles
More

Abandoned: Foundlings in Nineteenth-Century New York City
by Julie Miller
More

American Eve: Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White, The Birth of the "It" Girl and The Crime of the Century.
by Paula Uruburu
More

Fat of the Land: The Garbage Behind New York-The Last Two Hundred Years
by Benjamin Miller
More

Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners during the American Revolution
by Edwin G. Burrows
More

Gastropolis: Food and New York City
by Annie Hauck-Lawson and Jonathan Deutsch, eds.
More

Gravesend, Brooklyn: Then and Now
by Joseph Ditta
More

Half Slave Half Free
by David Manning
More

Harlem vs. Columbia University: Black Student Power in the Late 1960s
by Stefan M. Bradley
More

Here is New York
by E. B. White
More

Life on the Lower East Side: Photographs by Rebecca Lepkoff, 1937-1950
by Rebecca Lepkoff, Suzanne Wasserman, Peter Dans
More

Manhattan Projects: The Rise and Fall of Urban Renewal in Cold War New York
by Samuel Zipp
More

Nearest Thing to Heaven: The Empire State Building and American Dreams
by Mark Kingwell
More

New York City Trees: A Field Guide for the Metropolitan Area
by Edward Sibley Barnard
More

On the Town: One Hundred Years of Spectacle in Times Square
by Marshall Berman
More

On the Wall: Four Decades of Community Murals in NYC
by Janet Braun-Reinitz and Jane Weissman
More

Other People’s Money: Inside the Housing Crisis and the Demise of the Greatest Real Estate Deal Ever Made
by Charles Bagli
More

Queen of the Air: A True Story of Love and Tragedy at the Circus
by Dean Jensen
More

The City’s End: Two Centuries of Fantasies, Fears, and Premonitions of New York’s Destruction
by Max Page
More

Categories
19th century
20th century
Architecture/Built Environment
Bronx
Brooklyn
Dutch/Colonial
Fiction
Immigration
Journal Articles
Leisure
Manhattan
Neighborhoods
Non-fiction
Papers/Dissertations
Photography/Art/Design
Politics
Queens
Reference
Staten Island
Tours
Transit
Urbanism
Wall Street
Waterfront

Donate Now!
Help support the Gotham Center.


Municipal Art Society's

Urban Center Books
Specializing in architecture and related subjects.



© Gotham Center for New York City History. All Rights Reserved.

The Gotham Center for New York City History
The Graduate Center, The City University of New York, Room 6103
365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4309
Telephone: 212-817-8460
FAX: 212-817-1541
E-mail: gotham@gc.cuny.edu