ELAINE DE KOONING (1919-1989)
ELAINE DE KOONING (1919-1989)
ELAINE DE KOONING (1919-1989)
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ELAINE DE KOONING (1919-1989)
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Property from a Private New York Collection
ELAINE DE KOONING (1919-1989)

Twilight in Juarez No. I

Details
ELAINE DE KOONING (1919-1989)
Twilight in Juarez No. I
signed with the artist's initials 'E. de K.' (lower right); signed with the artist's initials again 'E. de K.' (on the reverse); titled and dated '59 Twilight in Juarez No. I' (on the reverse of the frame)
oil on Masonite
19 3⁄8 x 23 1⁄2 in. (49.2 x 59.7 cm.)
Painted in 1959.
Provenance
Graham Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, circa 1959

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Julian Ehrlich
Julian Ehrlich Specialist, Head of Sale, Post-War to Present

Lot Essay

Following an invitation at the University of New Mexico as a visiting professor, Elaine de Kooning spent the years 1957 and 1958 near the Mexican border, frequenting bullfights in Ciudad Juárez. These experiences, along with the profound effect of the western surroundings, were catalysts for a new direction in her paintings and the use of an entirely fresh color palette. The artist recalled, “It was a revelation. The ruddy earth, the naked musculature of the Rockies, the brilliant colors of the sky behind them in twilight, the massive horizontality of the environment – it was all overpowering, and my painting responded. I went to Juárez to see the bullfights, which immediately struck me as a heightened image of Southwestern landscape – the panorama of the arena, the heraldic colors” (E. de Kooning, quoted in E. Munro, Originals: American Women Artists, New York, 1979, p. 255). Upon returning to New York, this renewed and enlivened energy manifested itself on more expansive canvases that were imbued with bold, earthy tones evocative of the western landscape, a beloved theme she focused on for a decade.

A superlative and rare example from the artist’s most cherished Bull Fight series, Twilight in Juarez No. 1 was acquired from New York City’s Graham Gallery circa 1959, the year it was painted, and has remained in the same private collection ever since. Tucked away for decades, the exuberant palette and joyous, gestural composition have been cherished from the moment it was acquired, and the painting’s careful stewardship speaks to the owner’s keen eye and passion for the arts, beginning in the burgeoning art scene of the 1950s in New York City. Striking and intimate, Twilight in Juarez No. 1 exhibits de Kooning’s unrivaled ability to capture both the energy and delicacies of nature’s forms. The richness of the sky at sunset, the boisterous stance of the bull mid-fight, and the indelible emotions conjured from experiencing these worldly pleasures, all masterfully executed brushstroke by brushstroke. de Kooning is quoted “When I went West, the color experiences of New Mexico convinced me that ‘feeling’ was the thing.” (E. de Kooning, quoted in L. Campbell, “Elaine de Kooning Paints a Picture”ARTnews, New York, December 1960). Taking in the painting, the viewer is afforded the incredible opportunity to stand in the artist’s shoes and experience that entirely unique feeling that can only be driven by color, form and energy. In many ways, Twilight in Juarez No. 1 is an homage to nature and the western landscape, and the complex beauty that is birthed from de Kooning’s technical feat.

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