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Willem de Kooning (1904-1997)
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more The Collection of Robert and Sylvia Olnick
Willem de Kooning (1904-1997)

Seated Woman

Willem de Kooning (1904-1997)
Seated Woman
signed and dated 'de Kooning '66' (lower right)
oil on newsprint mounted on panel
22 ½ x 28 ¾ in. (57.2 x 73 cm.)
Painted in 1966.
M. Knoedler & Co., New York
Marion and Gustave Ring, Washington, D.C., 1980
Greenberg Gallery, St. Louis
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1988
New York, M. Knoedler & Co., Selections for Fall '80: Group Show, September 1980, no. 16.
Washington, D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Selections from the Collection of Marion and Gustave Ring, October 1985-January 1986.
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Lot Essay

Seated Woman is a dynamic painting execute during the prolific years shortly after de Kooning had moved permanently from New York City to Springs, Long Island. The artist had just turned sixty years old and he saw this period as a time of new beginnings, of bringing together everything that he had previously learned, absorbing his many influences, and making a fresh start.

Working in his studio, he painted a number of woman figures over this period. Seated Woman morphs the figurative and the abstract. During this time, de Kooning was exploring and extending his draftsmanship, resulting in figures that were highly fluid in appearance. Indeed, both the application of the paint and the portrayal of the figure are characterized by a distinct free flowing quality. Art historian Diane Waldman noted that, “[t]he East Hampton paintings of the 1960s and ‘70s demonstrate that de Kooning…in the rare tradition of such masters as Monet and Matisse, has produced a great and innovatory late body of work. In the late 1950s he had established once and for all that the female form was as relevant to contemporary art as pure abstract subject matter. Now he continued to experiment with the female figure” (D. Waldman, Willem de Kooning in East Hampton, New York, 1978, p. 21).

Impressions of a mouth, eyes, arms, and legs are discernable within a broader context of wide and free sweeps of paint across the support surface. De Kooning painted the current work (as he did a number of other works during this period) on a support of newsprint, the foundation of newspaper and columns of text showing through on the peripheries of the artwork. Wide swaths and swirls of paint cross the newsprint surface. The predominant color is white, defining the figure occupying the center of the canvas, with red tonalities outlining the eyes and mouth. Pinks, oranges, yellows, browns, greens, and blues develop the figure and background as well. Yellow brushwork at the top of the canvas suggests blonde hair (de Kooning had painted numerous blonde female figures during this period). “The dramatic black line, so essential to the women of the late 1940s and 1950s, is gone; in its place glorious, luminous white infuses these paintings with a light-filled pastoral atmosphere” (D. Waldman, quoted in J. Elderfield, de Kooning: A Retrospective, New York, p. 352).

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