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Willem De Kooning Biography


Dutch artist Willem De Kooning was an abstract expressionist artist. Born in Rotterdam, he moved to America in 1926. In 1943, De Kooning married the painter Elaine Fried and in 1962 he became an American citizen. After World War II, De Kooning developed a style known as Abstract Expressionism also known as ‘action painting’, he was part of what is known as the New York School, a close group of artists which included the likes of Jackson Pollock, Elaine de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, and Richard Pousette-Dart to name but a few.

On leaving school De Kooning studied as an apprentice to commercial artists. He attended part time classes at the Academie van Beeldende Kunsten en Technische Wetenschappen which was later to become the Willem de Kooning Academie. Painting in his spare time, and later joining the art colony at Woodstock in New York in the late 1920s, he came to know the modern artists Stuart Davis, Arshile Gorky and John Graham. De Kooning named this small group The Three Musketeers. De Kooning and Gorky first met at the house of Misha Reznikoff, where hey became close friends and Gooky became an important influence on De Kooning’s work.

De Kooning is best known for paintings such as Woman III (1953) and Woman VI (1953), and sculptures such as Clamdigger (1972/1976) and Seated Woman on a Bench (1972/1976). His paintings have fetched near-record prices. In November 2006, Woman III was sold for $137.5 million.

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