New York

Willem de Kooning

Xavier Fourcade Gallery

Critics have shown their prodigious capacity for invention when it has come to rationalizing their dislike of Willem de Kooning’s art. There is the “self-indulgent” argument, forwarded by Hilton Kramer (who hasn’t liked the work since the ’40s). This view considers de Kooning’s expressive obviousness an orgy of “pictorial self-dramatization and unbridled pictorial display,” which sounds good to me, but is meant to sound very bad. Then there is the “too late, too blind” school of formalist criticism which sloughed de Kooning off for just never really understanding the real problems of modern painting. A while ago, in this magazine, another view was formulated as the “excessive” argument: Irving Sandler wrote that de Kooning is not getting worse but paints too damn much, leaving the critic with the prickly problem of which ones are the real masterpieces.

To me this means: de Kooning hasn’t

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