What Makes a de Kooning? Part I

                                                   de Kooning - Woman Series Oil on Canvas
What is a de Kooning?

     A friend and long time art collector was slightly puzzled over the de Kooning retrospective at the MOMA.
     I mentioned that de Kooning had found some unique solutions to the complex issues of abstraction, visceral expressionism and detachment. Abstraction through action. All histories summed and sublimated to the actions taken in the moment.
     On the heels of the great anarchic and acidic marinade of  ism-movements -  Nazism, Fascism, and Imperialism to name a few of the ingredients that culminated in WWII and the Holocaust...Where to draw inspiration? The nurturing womb had been eviscerated. What canvas was left without some blood, sinew, entrails and tears?
     While Monet's late Giverny paintings, the great Cezannes late Bathers, Kandinsky's colorful symphonic exercises, Miro's lyrical biotic menageries, Mondrian Boogie Woogie primary colored Cartesian Grids, the Analytical Cubism of Braque and Picasso, Dali and Magritte's cerebral Surrealism may have introduced the  European maps of Abstraction and Expressionism...Gorky, Calder, Hoffman, Kline, Pollock punched through and brought the distinctive American versions uniting Expressionism and Abstraction into the fore.
     What is a de Kooning?
     None of the above. All of the above. The eviscerated pregnant bridge between.
    There is no convention or classical in the approach to his painting, no ramp or staircase to allow ease of access. A narrow path leads you to a boxing-ring. Not just any fight. The Queenbury rules of boxing etiquette turned into sausage as have the rules of painting have been  all weapons are permitted. No longer just fine brush, the right balance of oil and medium, perspective. Now -  right now you can kick, bite, stab throw gasoline on your opponent.
     You have to take a jump onto this canvas. Up. Jump into boxing ring through a tangle of ropes onto a messy canvas - a jump into the a prize fight and onto a canvas prepared by  de Kooning himself.
     Lucky for you the fightings already been done.
    Hanging in the air is just the feeling that somethings just happened. No idea of the past. No idea of the future. The canvas-skin floor is pulled from beneath your feet. Dizzy. Smoke clears. Knocked flat you discover the floor with a large swath cut from it. There below a deep black abyss. You look up to find the canvas floor canvas resurrected and stretched onto the back of a large rectangular frame hanging on the wall of the museum.
     The rectangular frame is about the only geometry you'll have from this moment on to orient yourself. you come face to face with the results of the fight...and you should see the other guy...in this case gal...You are now face to face with one of his Woman Series. Woman I in this discussion. While you've been through every other part of the museum the period and histories nothing quite has prepared you for the results of this fight.
     What is a de Kooning?
     More later.


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