new-york

Willem de Kooning

C&M Arts

Willem de Kooning’s art has fallen into a strange twilight since Elaine de Kooning’s death and the subsequent legal battle over his guardianship. No new paintings of de Kooning’s have been exhibited since 1987, but those were of a breathtaking incisiveness and allusive economy—among the artist’s greatest works. As some of us continue to wonder just what his extraordinary work of the mid ’80s might have led to—and anticipate the de Kooning painting retrospective at the National Gallery—we can be grateful for having had the opportunity to reconsider another of the most vibrant parts of his career, the paintings of the late ’70s.

The supple, protean volatility of the pictorial events that crowd these paintings makes it difficult to fasten on any given aspect as the key to de Kooning’s thinking in them. The variety and virtuosity of paint application here is paralleled only by the unpredictability

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