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Willem de Kooning, Untitled XXIX, 1983, oil on canvas, 77 x 88".

Willem de Kooning

Gagosian | 522 West 21st Street

Willem de Kooning, Untitled XXIX, 1983, oil on canvas, 77 x 88".

I feel like a fool for having asked to review Willem de Kooning—like, what could I possibly say, how could I say something new? All I can do for starters is reminisce. When I was fifteen years old I went with my mother to a de Kooning exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and I asked her to buy me the catalogue. It was the first contemporary-art catalogue I ever got; I had plenty of modern art–type books (on Picasso, Dalí, Mondrian, Ernst, etc.), but this was the first living-artist one. This was the book that set me off on contemporary art.

De Kooning has this effect. His work conjures something undeniably genuine in terms of human experience. I could not, in my youth, convey in language what I perceived in these paintings, yet they seized upon me to confirm something I already deeply felt, a sense of ripped-up abstraction, of space at once grossly fleshy

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