Willem De Kooning
- Category : Building-Trades-Construction-work
- Type : ME
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Split - Small (12,35)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Unexpected 1
Dutch-American abstract experimental painter. His swirls and colors helped define abstract expressionism and made him one of the 20th century's greatest painters. The son of a wine and beer distributor and a barmaid; he emigrated to the U.S. in 1926 as a stowaway on a ship. He learned English while working as a house painter and commercial artist.
His first one-man show was in 1948 at age 44. When his canvas "Excavation" won the major prize at the Art Institute of Chicago's 1951 exhibition, it was viewed as a vindication for abstract expressionism, the movement that stresses the depiction of emotion through shapes and colors.
In the '50s, de Kooning returned to the figure. He worked for three years on "Woman I," which was bought by the Museum of Modern Art. He never considered the work finished or even a success, but it became the most frequently reproduced work of art of the 1950s.
de Kooning was married in 1943 to fellow painter Elaine Fried. They separated later and when he was 52 he had a daughter with Joan Ward. He never divorced Elaine and she returned in 1978, helping him to stop his heavy drinking and handling his affairs until her death in 1989.
He painted daily in the late '80s despite an advancing handicap of Alzheimer's. After a bitter court fight in 1989, he was declared mentally incompetent and control of his $150 million estate was given to his attorney and his daughter Lisa. He died in his studio 3/19/1997, East Hampton, NY.