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Black Untitled

Willem de Kooning (American (born The Netherlands), Rotterdam 1904–1997 East Hampton, New York)

Oil and enamel on paper, mounted on wood
29 7/8 x 40 1/4in. (75.9 x 102.2cm) 31 1/4 x 41 1/4 x 2 7/8 in. (79.4 x 104.8 x 7.3 cm) (Frame)
Credit Line:
From the Collection of Thomas B. Hess, Gift of the heirs of Thomas B. Hess, 1984
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Description

    In 1946, de Kooning began a series of largely black and white paintings that culminated in his first solo exhibition at New York's Charles Egan Gallery in the spring of 1948. His use of synthetic commercial enamel for these works was an economic choice-as he told the critic Harold Rosenberg, "I needed a lot of paint…. I could get a gallon of black paint and a gallon of white paint-and I could go to town." On paper the enamel paint also dried quickly, allowing de Kooning to build up wafer-thin layers of experimental forms without worry that they would blend together. The restricted palette of black and white allowed de Kooning to experiment with a loose, Cubist-style abstraction, but remnants of the human figure remain underneath the swirls of paint.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Signature: Signed (upper left): de Kooning

  • Exhibition History

    Venice: 27th Venice Bienale, American Pavilion, ¦2 Pittori: de Kooning, Shahn, 3 Scultori: Lachaise, Lassaw, Smith¦. June - September 1954.

    New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, December 1983-February 26, 1984. ¦Willem de Kooning: Drawings, Paintings, Sculpture¦. Exh. cat. # 158. (Exhibition traveled to Akademie de Kunst, Berlin and Musee Nationale d'Art Moderne, Paris.)

    New Brunswick, New Jersey: The State University at Rutgers, The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, March 25-June 13, 1990; Florida: Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, October 26-December 3, 1989; Chicago: Terra Museum of Art, January 23-March 11, 1990. ¦Abstract Expressionism other dimensions¦. Rutgers: 1989, p.40, cat. #21.

    Washington D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 8 May-5 September 1994; New York: MMA, 11 October 1994-January 1995; London: Tate Gallery, 15 February-7 May 1995. ¦Willem de Kooning Paintings¦. Exh. cat. David Sylvester, Richard Schiff & Marla Prather, pl. 11, p. 110 (illus in color).

    Atlanta: High Museum of Art, Jan.26-Apr.4, 1993; New York: MMA, May 4-Nov. 7, 1993. ¦Abstract Expressionism: Works on Paper¦, by Lisa Mintz Messinger. cat. #6, pp.18-30.

    Madrid, Spain: Fundacion Juan March, May 8 - July 2, 2000.¦Jackson Pollock and American Abstract Expressionism: Works on Paper, Selections from the Metropolitan Museum of Art¦. Exh. Cat. Pg. 66, Cat. no. 25 (illus. in color).

    Museum of Modern Art, New York. "de Kooning: A Retrospective," September 18, 2011–January 9, 2012, no. 60.

  • References

    Cummings, Paul, Jorn Merkert, Claire Stoulling, Willem de Kooning: Drawings, Paintings, Sculpture. New York. 1983, p. 162, fig. 164.

  • See also