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De Kooning: A Retrospective

Published in conjunction with the first large-scale, multi-medium, posthumous retrospective of Willem de Kooning's career, this publication offers an unparalleled opportunity to appreciate the development of the artist's work as it unfolded over nearly seven decades.

It begins with de Kooning's early academic works made in Holland before he moved to the United States in 1926, and concludes with his final, sparely abstract paintings of the late 1980s. The volume presents 675 color images, including approximately 200 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints, covering the full diversity of de Kooning's art and placing his many masterpieces in the context of a complex and fascinating pictorial practice.

An introductory essay by John Elderfield, MoMA's Chief Curator Emeritus of Painting and Sculpture, provides an in-depth exploration of de Kooning's development, context and sources, theory of art, and working methods. Sections devoted to particular areas of the artist's oeuvre provide an illustrated chronology of the period and a brief introduction, as well as detailed entries on groups of works.

With lavish, full-color documentation, this landmark publication is the most complete account of de Kooning's artistic career to date.

About the artist: Willem de Kooning was born in Rotterdam, The Netherlands in 1904, and moved to the United States in 1926. His early figurative painting slowly gained attention, and his black-and-white abstractions of the late 1940s made him a leader among the New York Abstract Expressionists. His Woman paintings of the early 1950s made him famous for the violence of their depiction. De Kooning moved to Long Island in 1963, working in both abstract and figurative styles through the 1980s. He died in 1997.

Authors — Jim Coddington, Jennifer Field, Delphine Huisinga, Susan Lake, and John Elderfield.

Hardcover. 488 pages. 9½" × 12" (24 cm × 31 cm).

De Kooning: A Retrospective
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De Kooning: A Retrospective
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Commentary on de Kooning's Techniques

A featured image — ...Whose Name Was Writ in Water (1975) — from the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Collection, is reproduced from The Museum of Modern Art's monumental career survey, De Kooning: A Retrospective. Of the painting, Jennifer Field writes, "In...Whose Name Was Writ in Water, the mauve brushstrokes at center right have the waxiness of encaustic. They hover over a thick, puckered passage of butter yellow — the result of de Kooning's practice of mixing his paints with safflower oil, water, and either kerosene or another solvent, which he would whip into a 'fluffy consistency.' De Kooning would have learned about the effects of mixing waterbased and oil-based mediums as a housepainter. This combination kept the paint wet and pliable. When it dried, it created a roiled surface of wrinkled and bubbled areas, later prompting the philosopher Richard Wollheim to liken these effects to the 'infantile experiences of sucking, touching, biting, excreting, retaining, smearing, sniffing, swallowing, gurgling, stroking, wetting.'"

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