Willem de Kooning
1904 – 1997

Born in Rotterdam, The Netherlands in 1904, Willem de Kooning is considered one of the most important members of the Abstract Expressionism movement.  As one of the premier Abstract Expressionists, he would help develop the style of “gestural” painting, drawing from influences such as Cubism, Surrealism and Abstraction while utilizing a unique sense of spatial organization and movement of line and form that set him apart from other artists of his time.  He would go on to be well known for his major themes of landscapes and the human figure, especially women.

He first entered the art world at the age of twelve when he began an apprenticeship with the commercial art and decorating firm of Jan and Jaap Giddings.  At this time he also began eight years of fine and applied arts courses at the Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten en Technische Wetenschappen (Academy of Fine Arts and Techniques) in Rotterdam.  In 1924 he traveled to Belgium, allowing for additional studying at the Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts (Royal Academy of Fine Arts), as well as the Van Schelling Design School in Antwerp.

Two years later, in 1926, he immigrated to the United States, settling first in Hoboken, New Jersey finding work as a house painter and carpenter.  The following year he moved to Greenwich Village where he earned a living producing commercial art and signage.  By 1935 he found brief employment with the WPA Federal Art Project, after which he began to pursue painting full time.  Towards the end of the 1930′s he began experimenting with some of the themes that would become mainstays of his career; 1938 saw the completion of the first canvasses of his Women series.  His first solo exhibition was held at the Charles Egan Gallery in New York in 1948 which ushered in De Kooning as a major American painter.

In addition to his artistic output, De Kooning pursued brief teaching opportunities at Black Mountain College and Yale University.  He became a United States Citizen in 1962, and in 1963 he would move from New York City to East Hampton, Long Island where he would reside until his death in 1997.

Collections Include:
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas
Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts
Museum of Modern Art, New York
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Missouri
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York
Allen Art Museum at Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Harvard University Art Museums, Massachusetts
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.

1904 – Willem de Kooning is born in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
1916 – Attended the Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts and Techniques
1926 – Immigrated to the United States
1935 – Worked in the mural division of the WPA Federal Art Project
1938 – First canvass of his “Women” series completed
1948 – First solo exhibition held at the Charles Egan Gallery, New York
1949 – Instructor at Black Mountain College, North Carolina
1950 – Instructor at Yale University, Connecticut 1950-1951, 1959-1960.
1951 – Awarded Medal and Purchase Prize, Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois
1962 – Became United States Citizen
1964 – Awarded President’s Freedom Award Medal
1968 – Awarded Talens Prize International, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
1975 – Awarded Gold Medal, American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, New York
1978 – Awarded Artist of the Year Award, Fairfield Arts Festival, Connecticut
1979 – Awarded Mellon Prize, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1985 – Awarded National Medal of Arts, Washington, DC
1993 – Awarded CAA Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement
1997 – Died in East Hampton, Long Island, New York

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