Willem de Kooning

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Date of Birth April 24, 1904
Place of Birth Rotterdam, Netherlands
Date of Death Mar 19, 1997 (92)
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Willem de Kooning was a Dutch-American abstract expressionist artist. He was born in Rotterdam and moved to the United States in 1926, becoming an American citizen in 1962. In 1943, he married painter Elaine Fried. In the years after World War II, de Kooning painted in a style that came to be referred to as abstract expressionism or "action painting", and was part of a group of artists that came to be known as the New York School. Other painters in this group included Jackson Pollock, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko, Hans Hofmann, Nell Blaine, Adolph Gottlieb, Anne Ryan, Robert Motherwell, Philip Guston, Clyfford Still, and Richard Pousette-Dart. De Kooning's retrospective held at MoMa in 2011–2012, made him one of the most well known artists of the 20th century.

Born: April 24, 1904, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: March 19, 1997, East Hampton, New York
Nationality: Dutch, American
Known for: Abstract expressionism
Notable work: Woman I, Easter Monday, Attic, Excavation
Awards: Presidential Medal of Freedom (1964), National Medal of Arts (1986), Praemium Imperiale (1989)

About Willem de Kooning

Abstract expressionist painter whose best-known works included "Woman I," "Attic," and "Excavation." His first solo show was in 1948 at the Charles Egan Gallery.

Before Fame

He worked as an assistant to the art director at a Rotterdam department store during the 1920s. He also developed a passion for jazz after visiting the Savoy Ballroom several times in 1932 with muralist David Margolis.


His painting, "Woman III," sold for a staggering $137 million in 2006.

Family Life

He was born into the working-class family of Leendert de Kooning and Cornelia Nobel; he lived with his mother following his parents' 1907 divorce. He married Elaine Marie Fried in 1943.


He and Jackson Pollock were both abstract expressionists associated with the New York School; other painters in the school included Clyfford Still, Anne Ryan, and Adolph Gottlieb.

Information related to Willem de Kooning

  • http://www.moma.org/collection/artist.php?artist_id=3213 Willem de Kooning at the Museum of Modern Art
  • http://www.zappa-analysis.com/kooning/index.html Links to reproductions
  • http://www.xavierhufkens.com/artists/willem-de-kooning Willem de Kooning at Xavier Hufkens, Brussels
  • http://www.phxart.org/slideshow/index.html#/COL/72157606315913654/2678315288/ Woman in the Pool (1969) Phoenix Art Museum
  • http://nga.gov.au/internationalprints/tyler/Default.cfm?MnuID=3&ArtistIRN=25281&List=True&CREIRN=25281&ORDER_SELECT=13&VIEW_SELECT=5&GrpNam=12&TNOTES=TRUE Willem de Kooning in the National Gallery of Australia's Kenneth Tyler collection
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Latest information about Willem de Kooning updated on February 24, 2021.

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