San Francisco

Elaine De Kooning

Art Unlimited Gallery

This exhibition contains both portraits and abstractions. The heads of the portraits are painted with careful attention, and the rest swiftly brushed in. Despite the sketchy quality of her figures, one notices a fascination on the artist’s part with the way people sit. In the abstractions there is also some representational subject matter, sitting figure, bulls, etc., but their significance is abstract, and the subject is merely the vehicle of form, just as the Cubists used conventional still life objects as a point of departure rather than as an object whose nature was of any importance. Indeed, the similarity to the Cubists is mentioned advisedly: Elaine De Kooning has been deeply involved in the expressionist movement, both as artist and critic, but the wellsprings of her painting is cubist, however free and broad the brush stroke. Much of the soundest painting among the expressionists is basically cubist, though many painted unrecognizable objects in a realistic space. The western expressionists tended toward deep space, whereas Mrs. De Kooning and many of the Easterners, while never adhering exactly to the second dimension, used a space which was seldom more distant than across the still life table or perhaps across the street.

Knute Stiles