Friday, October 7, 2011

Willem De Kooning: A Retrospective

Willem De Kooning's retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art reunites more than 200 of his paintings, drawings and sculptures for first time in 30 years. Across the 17,000 square-foot of galleries, the viewer is confronted with powerful paintings including De Kooning’s post Picassian colorful portraits as well as his gestural pure abstractions, passing through the acclaimed series of aggressive smiling women.

Although there is a special focus on the grotesque quality paintings of the 40’s and 50’s, the transitional character of De Kooning’s work is notably present all through the exhibition.

Following the footsteps of early Picasso’s treatment of the human figure, his early body of work reveals the progressive fragmentation of body parts and use of bright primary colors that further on would led into pure abstractions.

Engaged in the Abstract Expressionist movement, De Kooning employed his own body as another tool for painting; “Merrit Parkway”, made in the late 50’s exemplifies his strong physical presence in the painting transmitted through energetic brush strokes, while the utilization of warm vivid primary colors and huge touches create a shocking atmosphere of a vigorous gestural character.

As the viewer continues walking through the gallery, he or she can realize how, once free of all figurative elements -which always revolved around the human figure, De Kooning’s paintings suffered a process of aesthetical depuration that led into a series of simple cold curved-shaped paintings. With them, once again, De Kooning achieved new approaches towards the treatment of the pictorial space.


  1. Allo Christina....
    Reading you blog I must first and foremost state that your opening paragraph is quite strong and concise as it describes where, what, and how the paintings appear. However just one grammatical correction...the last sentence is a tad bit too long...make a connection between his earlier style and his latter style.

    With the second paragraph I would reword it to make it stronger but as meaningful- "Although each painting acquire their own iconographical content, they all uniformly possess an expressive power through the artist's physical embodiment of the painting process."

    Lastly the conclusive paragraph isn't as conclusive as could ideally be....whilst you continue your summarisation of the exhibition we do not get a precise critical viewpoint of what you think or felt....

    Just a few minor adjustments otherwise a rather thorough observation of the exhibition.

    Well Done


  2. Hey,

    So first of all, good job. The first two paragraphs seem well-written, a good introductory pragraph followed by a more specific point. I do, however, get tripped up in the third paragraph when you use the word "the" before "early Picasso's treatment of the human figure". The addition of "the" to names and titles is something that is repeatedly done throughout the review and it takes the reader out of the piece. Maybe consider re-wording those sentences.

    I think this review contains some very strong points about the work that could be made a little more clear, or at least more in-depth. For instance, in the second-to-last paragraph you mention the that the artist's presence is made apparent in the work through the use of brave brush strokes, gestural lines, and certain color choices. These are valid points, but I feel like they could be supported a little more clearly, with even just a line explaining what about them conveys the artist's presence.

    I agree with DJ about the concluding paragraph. You use critical language with words like "suffered" and "cold" but you don't give any solid indication of your opinion.

    All in all, I think was a successful review of the show, which was huge-- admittedly a big undertaking for a 250 word review.
    Good job :)