The Art of Willem de Kooning

0c7e71dc-cc1b-11e3-a934-00144feabdc0Jackie Wullschlager at The Financial Times:

As postwar art recedes into history, its giant figures stand out more starkly. In American painting, the status of Willem de Kooning, last of the abstract expressionists to die, in 1997, is outstripping that of everyone else.

His career was not only longer, but more unexpected and contrary, less dependent on a signature style, than those of his peers Jackson Pollock the Dripper, Barnett Newman the Zipper, or Mark Rothko, the high priest of transcendent rectangles. De Kooning is as rowdy and irreverent as a pop artist, but tuned into European modernism in ways that give depth and emotional richness. By refusing to conform to ideals of abstraction, dissolving gaps between figurative and non-figurative, he appears immediate and present within today’s non-hierarchical approaches.

Not that he is easy. A show at New York’s Gagosian Gallery last winter reignited the debate over his old-age work: is it exquisite simplicity, or the outpourings of an alcoholic, demented fool?

more here.