Elaine de Kooning was born Elaine Marie Catherine Fried in 1918 in the Flatbush, New York.Later in life Elaine told people she was born in 1920. Her parents were Mary Ellen O'Brien, an Irish Catholic, and Charles Frank Fried, a Protestant of Jewish descent.Her father Charles was a plant manager for the Bond Bread Company.
Elaine was the eldest of four children; Marjorie Luyckx, Conrad and Peter Fried.Her mother, despite being recalled as less loving and attentive than some parents by Elaine’s younger sister, supported her artistic endeavors.
Elaine's mother started taking Elaine to museums at the age of five and taught her to draw what she saw. Elaine’s childhood room was decorated with painting reproductions.Mary Ellen was committed to the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center for a year during Elaine’s childhood after a neighbor reported her for neglect of her children.In grade school, Elaine began drawing and selling portraits of children attending her school. She was interested in and did well at sports as well as art. Elaine studied at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn. After graduating from High School, she briefly attended Hunter College in New York City, where she stablished frienship with a group of abstract and Social Realist painters. In 1937, she attended the Leonardo da Vinci Art School and went on to study at the American Artists School, both in New York City. While attending school, Elaine made money working as an art school model.
Elaine de Kooning was an important writer and teacher on art. She began working at the magazine Artnews in 1948, and wrote articles about major figures in the art world. She wrote about one hundred articles to the Art News magazine. Elaine de Kooning was the first American artist in the 1950s to take a role of the artists critic. "As an writer, she wrote about culture, art, and new ideas to her generation of artists and readers."Although Elaine was a successful writer, she considered herself a "painter by nature." Elaine de kooning’s art and writing were all devoted to art and humanity.
In regard to her portraiture, Elaine de Kooning wrote, "when I painted my seated men, I saw them as gyroscopes. Portraiture always fascinated me because I love the particular gesture of a particular expression or stance...Working on the figure, I wanted paint to sweep through as feelings sweep through..." She studied each person "to find the characteristic pose that would define them." A great example of this, is the series of studies and finished portraits of President John F. Kennedy, which was the most important commission in her career. De Kooning also did a series of men with children, and a series of women after she resumed painting a year after John F. Kennedy’s deat.Wikipedia