Willem de Kooning: Father of Abstract Expressionism

Abstract Expressionism was one of the brightest and most intense artistic phenomena of the 20th century. The American avant-garde movement became the epitome of stylistic diversity and dynamic, which shaped the image and the course of development of the entire Western art for years to come. To embrace the very essence and richness of Abstract Expressionism, you should get acquainted with the works by one of the fathers of the movement — Willem de Kooning. What was the share of this influential figure of the art world in the middle of the 20th century?

Willem de Kooning was not alone in laying the foundation for Abstract Expressionism. You can also meet such names as Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Arshile Gorky, and Mark Rothko, among others. The Dutch-American painter was originally from Rotterdam, but later in life, he moved to the US and became an American citizen.

If we are talking about the unique signature of Willem de Kooning, then it is all about his highly colorful and boldly gestural style, which might serve a good description of Abstract Expressionism as a whole. However, the movement was diverse in nature, and even de Kooning’s works were not “universal.” He was one of those artists who pushed the idea of Action painting forward. Known for his experiments, Willem de Kooning managed to mix two inherently contradictory modes in art: abstract and figurative art.

His first mature works focused on women. Partly influenced by another great painter, Pablo Picasso, Willem de Kooning created straightly repellent shapes of women, whereby he incarnated the sexual fears of men of the time. The Woman series still remains one of his most renowned works. Later, the painter refocused on painting landscapes, where he retained his deeply individual style, and even tried himself in sculpture.

One of the fathers of Abstract Expressionism, Willem de Kooning, will never be forgotten. His art is highly relevant today, while his artistic personality is a role model for many contemporary painters and sculptors.