Elaine de Kooning

Elaine de Kooning (March 12, 1918 – February 1, 1989) was an Abstract Expressionist and Figurative Expressionist painter in the post-World War II era. She wrote extensively on the art of the period and was an editorial associate for Art News magazine. On December 9, 1943, she married painter Willem de Kooning.
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.

In 1952's Elaine present her first Solo exhibition and spend the summer at Art dealer Leo Castelli's house at The Hamptons.
Women were often marginalized in the Abstract Expressionist movement, functioning as objects and accessories to confirm the masculinity of their male counterparts. For that reason, she chose to sign her artworks with her initials rather than her full name, to avoid her paintings being labeled as feminine in a traditionally masculine movement, and to not be confused with her husband Willem de Kooning.
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.

Elaine de Kooning made both abstract and figurative paintings and drawings of still life, cityscapes, and portraits. Her work was influenced by the artists Willem de Kooning and Arshile Gorky, artists that worked abstractly and also in a figurative way. Her earlier work comprised watercolors and still lifes, including fifty watercolor sketches inspired by a statue in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. Later in her career, her work fused abstraction with mythology, primitive imagery, and realism. Her gestural style of portraiture is often noted, although her work was mostly figurative and representational, and rarely purely abstract. She produced a diverse body of work over the course of her lifetime, including sculpture, etchings, and work inspired by cave drawings, all in addition to her many paintings. Her work presents a combination between painting and drawing, surface and contour, stroke and line, color and light, transparency and opacity.

A large portion of Elaine de Kooning’s work was in portraiture. Her subjects were often fellow artists—usually men—including poets Frank O'Hara and Allen Ginsberg, art critic Harold Rosenberg, choreographer Merce Cunningham, and painters Fairfield Porter and her husband, Willem de Kooning. Although she worked in a gestural Abstract Expressionist mode, she never abandoned working with the figure ensuring the person’s likeness.
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

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