Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Easter Monday

Artist:
Willem de Kooning (American (born The Netherlands), Rotterdam 1904–1997 East Hampton, New York)
Date:
1955–56
Medium:
Oil and newspaper transfer on canvas
Dimensions:
96 x 74 in. (243.8 x 188 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1956
Accession Number:
56.205.2
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 922
Easter Monday, named for the day on which the painting was completed in 1956, is the largest of ten grandly scaled paintings de Kooning exhibited at Sidney Janis Gallery that spring. In his review of the exhibition in Artnews, critic Thomas Hess likened the works to "abstract urban landscapes;" indeed, in its highly textured surface, swooping lines of paint, and glimpses of newspaper transfers, Easter Monday seems to reference the whirling pace and gritty detritus of the modern city. The transferred newsprint, particularly visible at the bottom and top right, remains aligned with the canvas's edges, enforcing the tenuously grid-like structure of the painting. Shot through with Rubensian flesh-like pinks and vivid blues and yellow, Easter Monday is a tour de force of de Kooning's 1950s style.
Inscription: Signed (lower left): de Kooning
[Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, 1956; sold to MMA]

New York. Sidney Janis Gallery. "Willem de Kooning: Recent Paintings," April 2–28, 1956, checklist no. 8 (dated 1955).

New York. Sidney Janis Gallery. "Recent Paintings by 7 Americans," September 24–October 20, 1956, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Three Centuries of American Painting," April 9–October 17, 1965, unnum. checklist.

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. "Willem de Kooning," September 19–November 17, 1968, no. 62.

London. Tate Gallery. "Willem de Kooning," December 5, 1968–January 26, 1969, no. 72.

Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Willem de Kooning," March 6–April 27, 1969, no. 72.

Art Institute of Chicago. "Willem de Kooning," May 17–July 6, 1969, no. 72.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Willem de Kooning," July 29–September 14, 1969, no. 72.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940–1970," October 18, 1969–February 1, 1970, no. 64.

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "Great American Paintings from the Boston and Metropolitan Museums," November 30, 1970–January 10, 1971, no. 95.

Saint Louis, Mo. City Art Museum. "Great American Paintings from the Boston and Metropolitan Museums," January 28–March 7, 1971, no. 95.

Seattle Art Museum. "Great American Paintings from the Boston and Metropolitan Museums," March 25–May 9, 1971, no. 95.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Willem de Kooning: Paintings," October 11, 1994–January 8, 1995, no. 40.

Museum of Modern Art, New York. "De Kooning: A Retrospective," September 18, 2011–January 9, 2012, unnumbered cat. (pl. 105).

R.[obert] R.[osenblum]. "In The Galleries: Willem de Kooning." Arts 30 (May 1956), p. 50.

Dore Ashton. "Art." Arts & Architecture 73 (June 1956), p. 10, calls this painting a "large tour–de–force" and suspects that it was completed only weeks before Exh. New York April 1956 opened.

Robert Beverly Hale. "The American Moderns." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 16 (Summer 1957), ill. p. 26.

Thomas B. Hess. Willem de Kooning. New York, 1959, p. 23, pl. 145.

Harriet Janis and Rudi Blesh. De Kooning. New York, 1960, p. 65, colorpl. G (color), date it 1956.

Henry Geldzahler. American Painting in the Twentieth Century. New York, 1965, pp. 197–98, ill.

Thomas B. Hess. Willem de Kooning. Exh. cat., Tate Gallery, London. New York, 1968, pp. 50, 102, 123, 162, no. 38, 163, no. 72, ill. p. 109 (color), dates it 1956 and claims that the title of this work derives from its day of completion; notes the many "E"s throughout the composition.

Andrew Forge. "De Kooning's 'Women'." Studio International 176 (December 1968), p. 248.

Henry Geldzahler. New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940–1970. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1969, pp. 23, 44, no. 64, ill. p. 139.

Thomas N. Maytham. Great American Paintings from the Boston and Metropolitan Museums. Exh. cat., Seattle Art Museum. Seattle, 1970, pp. 19, 146, no. 95, ill. p. 145 (color).

Gabriella Drudi. Willem de Kooning. Milan, 1972, pp. 22, 35, fig. 99 (color).

Thomas B. Hess. Willem de Kooning: Drawings. Greenwich, Conn., 1972, pp. 14, 39, dates it 1956.

Nora B. Beeson. Guide to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1972, p. 286, fig. 18.

Harold Rosenberg. De Kooning. New York, [1974], p. 33, colorpl. 129.

Philip Larson in Philip Larson and Peter Schjeldahl. de Kooning: Drawings/Sculptures. Exh. cat., Walker Art Center. New York, 1974, unpaginated, fig. 25, dates it 1956.

Lowery S. Sims in Profil du Metropolitan Museum of Art de New York: de Ramsès à Picasso. Exh. cat., Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux. Bordeaux, 1981, p. 167.

Harry F. Gaugh. Willem de Kooning. New York, 1983, pp. 56, 59–61, 64, 74, colorpl. 48, dates it 1956; calls this painting "one of the most ambitious and noisy produced during the height of Abstract Expressionism"; likens the red slash in the center right of the composition to an open wound.

Jörn Merkert in Willem de Kooning: Drawings, Paintings, Sculpture. Exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Munich, 1983, p. 126, no. 203, ill. p. 189 (color), categorizes this painting as an "abstract urban landscape"; erroneously lists it as in the exhibition.

Harry F. Gaugh. "De Kooning in Retrospect." Art News 83 (March 1984), pp. 91, 95, dates it 1956.

Yves Michaud in Willem de Kooning. Exh. cat., Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris, 1984, p. 19, ill. p. 105 (color).

Catherine Bompuis and Claire Stoullig in Willem de Kooning. Exh. cat., Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris, 1984, pp. 222, 242.

Eugene Victor Thaw. "The Abstract Expressionists." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 44 (Winter 1986–87), pp. 9, 45, fig. 36 (color), states that the MMA "wisely purchased [this painting] while the paint was still wet".

Lynne Catherine Cooke. "Willem de Kooning: 'A Slipping Glimpser'." PhD diss., Courtauld Institute, 1988, pp. 152–53, 168, 459 n. 52, pl. 57, c.

Diane Waldman. Willem de Kooning. New York, 1988, pp. 101–2, 105, 147, colorpl. 78, calls this painting an "urban landscape" in which "one can experience the city, its dynamic buildings, its light, its grime".

Philippe Sollers. De Kooning, Vite. Paris, 1988, vol. 1, pp. 60, 80, vol. 2, fig. 37 (color), calls it "Lundi de Pâques".

Kirsten Hoving Powell. "Resurrecting Content in de Kooning's 'Easter Monday'." Smithsonian Studies in American Art 4 (Summer–Autumn 1990), pp. 86-101, ill. frontispiece (color), figs. 3a, 4 (color), 5, 6, 8a, 9a,10a,11 (color), 13a (details), claims that Thomas Hess' original description of this painting as part of a series of abstract cityscapes has shaped its subsequent interpretations; suggests that the title actually reflects the artist's ongoing interest in Christian subject matter; suggests the artist purposefully chose Christian references for the newspaper transfers found along the painting's bottom edge.

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, 24 n. 34, p. 25 n. 55, relates that Elaine de Kooning recalled suggesting the title for this work.

April Kingsley. The Turning Point: The Abstract Expressionists and the Transformation of American Art. New York, 1992, p. 225.

Lee Hall. Elaine and Bill, Portrait of a Marriage: The Lives of Willem and Elaine de Kooning. New York, 1993, pp. 162–63.

Diane Waldman. Roy Lichtenstein. Exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. New York, 1993, p. 63.

Judith Zilczer. Willem de Kooning from the Hirshhorn Museum Collection. Exh. cat., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution. Washington D.C., 1993, p. 56.

Richard Shiff in Willem de Kooning: Paintings. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., 1994, p. 54.

Marla Prather in Willem de Kooning: Paintings. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., 1994, pp. 134, 138 nn. 60, 62, 63, no. 40, ill. p. 152 (color).

Michael Reuben Zakian. "Representation and Illusion in the Art of Willem de Kooning." PhD diss., Rutgers, State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, 1994, p. 54.

David Cateforis. Willem de Kooning. New York, 1994, unpaginated, colorpl. 8.

Claude Cernuschi. "Not an Illustration but the Equivalent": A Cognitive Approach to Abstract Expressionism. Madison, N.J., 1997, pp. 42–45, ill. (overall and detail).

Catherine Morris. The Essential Willem de Kooning. New York, 1999, p. 77, ill. p. 79 (color).

Enrique Juncosa in Willem de Kooning. Exh. cat., IVAM / Institut Valencia d'Art Modern. Valencia, 2001, p. 10.

David Carrier in Willem de Kooning. Exh. cat., IVAM / Institut Valencia d'Art Modern. Valencia, 2001, ill. p. 46 (color).

David Anfam. "De Kooning, Bosch and Bruegel: Some Fundamental Themes." Burlington Magazine 145 (October 2003), pp. 705, 715, dates it 1955.

Barbara Hess. Willem de Kooning, 1904–1997: Content as a Glimpse. Cologne, 2004, p. 32, ill. p. 45 (color).

Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan. De Kooning: An American Master. New York, 2004, pp. 379–82, 387, ill. between pp. 302–3 (color), repeat anecdote that the title of this work reflects the day of its completion because the artist was "struggling to make the deadline" of the Janis Gallery exhibition opening date; call it the artist's "first truly mainstream painting"; interpret its vertical nature and angular brushstrokes across the canvas as evoking the Crucifixion, suggesting that the flesh tones and red slash represent Christ's wounded body on the cross.

Florian Steininger in Willem de Kooning. Ed. Ingried Brugger and Florian Steininger. Exh. cat., Kunstforum Wien. Vienna, 2005, pp. 78–79, fig. 2 (color).

John Elderfield. De Kooning: A Retrospective. Ed. David Frankel. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 2011, pp. 33, 35–36, 292–94, 305, 343, colorpl. 105, states that this was the artist's second largest painting and his last large painting; disagrees with Powell's [Ref. 1990] assertion that the newspaper imprints import Christian meaning and considers it more likely that the title derives from its date of execution.

Lauren Mahoney in John Elderfield. De Kooning: A Retrospective. Ed. David Frankel. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 2011, p. 387.

Delphine Huisinga in John Elderfield. De Kooning: A Retrospective. Ed. David Frankel. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 2011, p. 245, 396, 444.

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. 296–98, ill. (color, detail and overall), figs. 1 & 2 (color, details), describes the methods and materials the artist used to create this painting.

Jim Coddington in John Elderfield. De Kooning: a Retrospective. Ed. David Frankel. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 2011, p. 223.

Richard Shiff. Between Sense and de Kooning. London, 2011, pp. 7, 238, fig. 95 (color), dates it 1950.

Barry Schwabsky. "Vacant, Limpid, Angelic: On Willem de Kooning." Nation (October 18, 2011), unpaginated.

Judith Zilczer. A Way of Living: The Art of Willem de Kooning. London, 2014, p. 132, fig. 161.

Calvin Tomkins. "Onward and Upward with the Arts: The Met and the Now." New Yorker (January 25, 2016), p. 33.



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