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    Sale 2049

    Post-War & Contemporary Art Morning Session

    13 November 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 145

    Willem de Kooning (1904-1997)

    East Hampton VII

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Willem de Kooning (1904-1997)
    East Hampton VII
    signed 'de Kooning' (lower right); inscribed 'to Dorry with love Bill de Kooning' (on a paper label affixed to the backing board)
    oil on paper laid down on canvas
    30¼ x 35 in. (76.9 x 88.9 cm.)
    Painted in 1976.


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    Willem de Kooning experimented with the human figure throughout his career. A consummate draughtsman and colorist notwithstanding, he eliminated the traditional barriers between drawing and painting to explore ambiguities between the figure and its background. De Kooning's work underwent a dramatic transformation following his permanent move to East Hampton from New York City in 1963. There, his works exploded with color and freedom, reflecting a fresh concept of space and light that was inspired by his new landscape. The beaches, marshes and expansive skyscape increasingly informed de Kooning's representation of the female form, and as a result the two subjects merge. Throughout this period, the artist seemed to be exploring ways in which he could spread and flatten the figure as much as it could take.

    In the present work, East Hampton VII, a nude reclines supine in the landscape with her limbs outstretched. She is contained to the left half of the composition, and surrounded by vibrant swaths of color as well as black and brown lines which begin to articulate the boundaries of her form. The bright blue and yellow areas evoke sky, sea and sun, while bright red and purple areas hint at context -a flowering field or beach towels perhaps. De Kooning's image of woman expresses his experience of nature.

    "The virtually formless figures in these paintings do not remain intact even when there are established boundaries. Their presence is indicated by pinkish paint (or mostly white in Woman in Landscape III) and de Kooning's by-now-recognizable shorthand for the body. The figure is reduced to something elemental, as though the artist wanted to see how far he could take his image from representation and still invoke the body" (M. Prather, Willem de Kooning Paintings, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., 1994, p. 177).

    Provenance

    Anon. sale; Sotheby's, New York, 9 May 1990, lot 199
    Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., New York
    Anon. sale; Sotheby's, New York, 3 May 1995, lot 297A (incorrectly titled and dated Untitled, 1967)
    Anon. sale; Christie's, New York, 11 November 2004, lot 153
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner