Willem de Kooning, Untitled V 1982, Oil on canvas, 6' 8" x 70", The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Gift of Philip Johnson
As part of his blog series Paintings I Like Paul Corio reflects on the de Kooning retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and on how seeing the full range of de Kooning's oeuvre illuminates the "real problems" in painting.
"The real problems painting faced after Ab Ex and Color Field were the same problems that painting has faced for about 700 years... Periodically, you have to change the way you do it - you can't go on painting the way that the previous generation painted... DeKooning understood the ideas that were in the air at the time. He chose the ones that were useful to him and rejected the ones he had no use for. He mixed these together with his influences of the the recent and distant past, and most importantly added to the force of an intensely personal vision of how one should paint. I think that the contemporary painter, trying to figure out how to proceed in the impossibly complex art scene of the early twenty-first century, could learn a lot from this approach."
Laurie Fendrich reviews the exhibition de Kooning: A Retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, on view through January 9, 2012.
Fendrich writes: "Many influences lurk in the work - Picasso, Matisse, Gorky, School of Paris contour-driven painting, surrealism, American toothpaste ads (those toothy mouths in his Women paintings). Yet de Kooning was no synthesizer. He brazenly pushed forward, giving paint enough leash to become its own actor out discovering its own boundaries. His hunt was for nothing less than to make a painting express the ineffable, terrible awe of existence itself."
Barlow notes that "In many ways this was a show that brought me to far extremes of response, all in the context of acknowledging the enormousness of De Kooning’s influence on the flow of art in my lifetime. He was the primary influence on most of my art teachers in the 1970s, and coming to terms with his work has been a consistent theme in my artmaking life. Some of these works were so breathlessly exquisite I became faint and had to sit down (like the cases of the 'Uffizi effect' reported by James Elkins in his book Pictures and Tears.) But other paintings were frustrating and exacerbating."
Writing about Father, Mother, Sister, Brother, c. 1937, Sultan remarks: "I am struck by the pure grace of this image, and find myself thinking of Indian miniatures, which also have flat areas of gorgeous color bounded by sensitive line; also of Matisse, and of course Arshile Gorky, a friend and great influence. The paint is alive, the surface doesn't sit still, the figure is lost and found and lost again."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.