Elaine de Kooning
(1918 - 1989)
Elaine DeKooning was born and grew up in Brooklyn, New York and spent her childhood studying the lives of artists and visiting the museums and galleries of New York City. After high school she attended the American Artists School and the Leonardo da Vinci School and was swept up in the cultural excitement in New York of the late 1930s and early 1940s. In 1943 she married fellow artist Willem de Kooning (1904-1997), one of the group of artists soon to emerge as the first generation of Abstract Expressionists. During her marriage, de Kooning continued painting; however, much of her time was devoted to ensuring the success of her husband. In the summer of 1948, de Kooning and her husband left New York for North Carolina so that he could teach at Black Mountain College. At the end of the summer, her husband left North Carolina, and de Kooning stayed behind. During that period at Black Mountain, she created a series of paintings titled "Black Mountain Abstractions." The following year, de Kooning and her husband were part of an exhibition entitled "Artists: Man and Wife" at the Sidney Janis Gallery, which featured several artist couples.
The 1950s were an artistically prosperous time for de Kooning, as she secured several solo exhibitions at notable galleries such as the Stable Gallery and the Graham Gallery, and she also participated in numerous noteworthy group shows including the Ninth Street Show in 1951, Young American Painters at the MoMA, 1956, and Artists of the NY School: 2nd Generation at the Jewish Museum, 1957. She was included in the Ten Best list in ArtNews in 1956. De Kooning came to New Mexico in 1957-58, where she was a visiting professor in the University of New Mexico's art department. The light, space, and colors of New Mexico had a lasting impact on her work.
She was an accomplished portrait artist, as well as a masterful abstract painter, as seen in the painting shown here. She also worked as an editorial associate and art critic of ArtNews magazine, and taught at many universities, including the University of New Mexico, the University of California - Davis, Yale University, the Pratt Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, Wagner College, and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. In 1985 she was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member, and became a full Academician in 1988. In the 1980s, de Kooning was diagnosed with lung cancer. Her health began to deteriorate until she succumbed to the disease in 1989. Her works are found in many museum collections, including the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.