Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Judgment Day

Artist:
Willem de Kooning (American (born The Netherlands), Rotterdam 1904–1997 East Hampton, New York)
Date:
1946
Medium:
Oil and charcoal on paper
Dimensions:
22 1/8 × 28 3/8 in. (56.2 × 72.1 cm)
Classification:
Drawings
Credit Line:
From the Collection of Thomas B. Hess, Gift of the heirs of Thomas B. Hess, 1984
Accession Number:
1984.613.4
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Not on view
Edwin Denby and Rudolph Burckhardt, New York; Thomas B. Hess, New York (until d. 1978; his heirs (1978–84; their gift to MMA)

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. "Willem de Kooning," September 19–November 17, 1968, no. 19 (as "Study for Backdrop for Labyrinth", lent by a private collection).

London. Tate Gallery. "Willem de Kooning," December 5, 1968–January 26, 1969, no. 20 (as "Study for backdrop [Labyrinth]," lent by a private collection).

Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Willem de Kooning," March 6–April 27, 1969, no. 20.

Art Institute of Chicago. "Willem de Kooning," May 17–July 6, 1969, no. 20.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Willem de Kooning," July 29–September 14, 1969, no. 20.

New York. Whitney Museum of American Art. "Willem de Kooning: Drawings, Paintings, Sculpture," December 15, 1983–February 26, 1984, no. 158 (as "Study for backdrop for 'Labyrinth,'," lent by a private collection).

Berlin. Akademie der Künste. "Willem de Kooning: Drawings, Paintings, Sculpture," March 11–April 29, 1984, no. 158.

Paris. Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. "Willem de Kooning," June 26–September 24, 1984, unnumbered cat. (p. 69; as "Study for backdrop for Labyrinth," lent by a private collection, United States).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Willem de Kooning: The Early Years," March 14–August 14, 1989, no catalogue.

Atlanta. High Museum of Art. "Abstract Expressionism, Works on Paper: Selections from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," January 26–April 4, 1993, no. 5.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Abstract Expressionism, Works on Paper: Selections from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," May 4–September 12, 1993, extended to November 7, 1993, no. 5.

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "Willem de Kooning: Paintings," May 8–September 5, 1994, no. 8.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Willem de Kooning: Paintings," October 11, 1994–January 8, 1995, no. 8.

London. Tate Gallery. "Willem de Kooning: Paintings," February 15–May 7, 1995, no. 8.

Geneva. Musée Rath. "Les Figures de la liberté: [Mille Neuf Cent Quarante–Cinq]," October 27, 1995–January 7, 1996, no. 142.

Madrid. Fundación Juan March. "Expresionismo Abstracto: Obra Sobre Papel, Colección The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nueva York," May 9–July 2, 2000, no. 24.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Abstract Expressionist Drawings," November 1, 2007–February 24, 2008, no catalogue.

Museum of Modern Art, New York. "De Kooning: A Retrospective," September 18, 2011–January 9, 2012, unnumbered cat. (pl. 34).

Thomas B. Hess. Willem de Kooning. Exh. cat., Tate Gallery, London. New York, 1968, pp. 49, 161, no. 20, ill. (color), notes that this work originated as a sketch for the backdrop for the dance, "Labyrinth," performed by Marie Marchowsky on April 5, 1946, that the artist painted with Milton Resnick.

Gabriella Drudi. Willem de Kooning. Milan, 1972, p. 32, fig. 29 (color), calls it "Study for Backdrop (Labyrinth)".

Thomas B. Hess. Willem de Kooning: Drawings. Greenwich, Conn., 1972, pp. 32–33, 45, quotes the artist's description of making this work as if he were "opening vast room after room–'like Grand Central Station'–into the image".

Harold Rosenberg. De Kooning. New York, [1974], colorpl. 43, calls it "Study for backdrop for 'Labyrinth'".

Jörn Merkert in Willem de Kooning: Drawings, Paintings, Sculpture. Exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Munich, 1983, p. 121, no. 158, ill. p. 157 (color).

Yves Michaud in Willem de Kooning. Exh. cat., Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris, 1984, p. 19, ill. p. 69 (color).

Lisa M. Messinger in "Twentieth Century Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1984–1985. New York, 1985, pp. 56–57, ill., calls it "Study for 'Labyrinth'".

Sally Yard. Willem de Kooning: The First Twenty–Six Years in New York. PhD diss., Princeton University. New York, 1986, pp. 145–47, 159, fig. 175, calls it "Study for Backdrop"; claims that this work and a related 1945 drawing were conceived independently and subsequently used as models for the backdrop of the ballet "Labyrinth" (1946, The Allan Stone Collection, New York City); relates Thomas Hess' recollection that de Kooning once told him the painting depicted the four angels of the Gates of Paradise and was influenced by the MMA's Boscoreale paintings (03.14.1–13a–g).

Hilton Kramer. "Though Exhibiting It Badly, Met Offers a Worthy de Kooning Show." New York Observer (August 28, 1989), p. 19.

Sally Yard. "The Angel and the Demoiselle: Willem de Kooning's 'Black Friday'." Record of the Art Museum, Princeton University 50, no. 2 (1991), pp. 16, 25 n. 51, notes that the MMA calls it "Judgment Day [Labyrinth]"; relates that Elaine de Kooning stated that this work was not originaly created as a source for "Labyrinth" (MMA archive file).

Stephen Polcari. Abstract Expressionism and the Modern Experience. Cambridge, 1991, p. 277, fig. 215, calls it "Judgment Day (Labyrinth)".

Lisa Mintz Messinger. Abstract Expressionism, Works on Paper: Selections from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., High Museum of Art, Atlanta. New York, 1992, pp. 18, 22, 24, fig. 5 (color), calls it "Judgment Day".

Holland Cotter. "Abstract Expressionism: The Lighter, Quieter Side." New York Times (June 4, 1993), p. C24.

Judith Zilczer. Willem de Kooning from the Hirshhorn Museum Collection. Exh. cat., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution. Washington D.C., 1993, p. 30.

David Anfam. "Abstract Expressionism: Works on Paper. New York, Metropolitan Museum." Burlington Magazine 135 (September 1993), p. 658.

Marla Prather in Willem de Kooning: Paintings. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., 1994, pp. 93–95, 102 nn. 9, 10, no. 8, ill. p. 107 (color).

Catherine Morris. The Essential Willem de Kooning. New York, 1999, pp. 51, 59, 94, ill. (color), calls it "Judgment Day (Backdrop for Labyrinth)".

Lisa M. Messinger. Expresionismo Abstracto: Obra Sobre Papel, Colección The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nueva York. Exh. cat., Fundación Juan March. Madrid, 2000, p. 62, no. 24, ill. p. 63 (color).

Edvard Lieber. Willem de Kooning: Reflections in the Studio. New York, 2000, p. 29.

David Anfam. "De Kooning, Bosch and Bruegel: Some Fundamental Themes." Burlington Magazine 145 (October 2003), pp. 705, 709–11, 715, fig. 25 (color), posits that this work's title stems from the artist's interest in the old masters; suggests that this painting sparked an "extraordinary sequence of progressively all–over compositions" that culminates in "Attic" (1949, MMA 1982.16.3).

Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan. De Kooning: An American Master. New York, 2004, pp. 225–28, ill.

Geoffrey Dorfman in Abstract Expressionism and Other Modern Works: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Gary Tinterow, Lisa Mintz Messinger, and Nan Rosenthal. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, p. 62, fig. 18 (color).

John Elderfield. De Kooning: A Retrospective. Ed. David Frankel. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 2011, pp. 121, 132, 135–38, 149, colorpl. 34, suggests that this painting is the artist's refutation of modern theories of light and space that were posited after the dropping of the atom bomb.

Lauren Mahoney in John Elderfield. De Kooning: A Retrospective. Ed. David Frankel. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 2011, p. 195.

Delphine Huisinga in John Elderfield. De Kooning: A Retrospective. Ed. David Frankel. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 2011, pp. 122–23.

Susan F. Lake in John Elderfield. De Kooning: A Retrospective. Ed. David Frankel. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 2011, pp. 142–44, 298, ill. (color, detail, overall, and paint cross–section), describes the methods and materials used to make this painting and stresses their experimental nature.

Holland Cotter. "Unfurling a Life of Creative Exuberance." New York Times (September 16, 2011), p. C28.

Judith Zilczer. A Way of Living: The Art of Willem de Kooning. London, 2014, p. 71, fig. 83 (color), states that "the meaning of [this painting's] imagery remains deliberately mysterious".



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