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Untitled XXVIII, 1977 – Willem de Kooning
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About the item

Willem de Kooning\nUntitled XXVIII\n1977\noil on canvas\n60 x 54 in. (152.4 x 137.2 cm)\nSigned "de Kooning" on the reverse.
US
NY, US
US

year

1977

notes

“Then there is a time in life when you just take a walk: And you walk in your own landscape.” Willem de KooningWillem de Kooning spent his entire artistic career exploring the lustrous tactility of oil paint--pushing, pulling and scraping paint in search of the perfect moment, one of balanced tension and retention. The mid-1970s saw de Kooning produce a body of work that captured his absorption in the natural world of Springs, East Hampton, New York. Untitled XXVIII, 1977, rendered in creamy yellows, crisp whites and sky blues, seizes a glimpse of the landscape in an inspired attempt to hold onto the temporal chaos of the sand, wind, and sky. Untitled XXVIII fuses the anthropomorphic and the natural, the abstracted landscape containing incipient human shapes. The underpinning of every canvas, every visceral brush stroke, whether figural or natural, reveals de Kooning’s impulsive painterly actions.De Kooning’s life long affair with his landscape is undeniable throughout the 1950’s and 60’s, culminating with this miraculous series of landscapes of 1977 in which the present lot is included. The late paintings of the 1970s have broken free from the topographic and narrative contexts of other Hamptons inspired canvases that have titles such as Clam Digger and Back Porch. Moving away from allusions to themes of summer vacation, his compositions tend to avoid the representational with a simple Untitled. At this point de Kooning has spent over 10 years in the Springs and his interest in his surrounds have vigorously reemerged, explaining “When I moved into this house, everything seemed self evident…The space, the light, the trees --- I just accepted it without thinking about it much. Now I look around with new eyes, I think it’s all a kind of miracle.” The importance of landscape painting for de Kooning finds its roots in the sweeping seascapes of J.M. Turner. The luminosity of Turner’s salty scenes is echoed within the slippery consistency of de Kooning’s brush strokes while his admiration for vigorous and adept brush work is gleaned from the visceral paintings of Chaim Soutine, whose portraits, landscapes and still lives, particularly his depictions of butchered meat are defined by their electrically charged aesthetic. In order to fuse these two desired artistic effects de Kooning began with a layer of “lead white paint which he would sand down until the surface became almost translucence.” Within the supple, luminous white of de Kooning’s paintings, Turner’s vaporous snowstorms and sea storms come to mind, lost in a deluge of beautiful and temporal forms. Between the snow and the air, the wind and the sea, comes the natural sublime, which de Kooning was eager to return to in 1977. De Kooning explained to Harold Rosenberg in 1972, “I wanted to get back to a feeling of light in painting …I wanted to get in touch with nature. Not painting scenes from nature, but to get a feeling of that light that was very appealing to me.” To capture this sea side light de Kooning utilized an abundance of white paint saturated with sun filled colors. The present lot, Untitled XXVIII was painted in 1977, the year which David Sylvester described as the “annus mirabilis of de Kooning’s career.” De Kooning himself acknowledges this glorious time in his artistic career saying, “I could not put down the brush.” Of the 1975 paintings, Dore Ashton wrote, “De Kooning masterfully directs the viewer on a journey through many climates.” His canvaseshave been composed of water diluted oil paints applied with utilitarian house-painters’ brushes, he then dressed his exposed wet oil paintings with a cover of paper, vellum or cardboard, which would later be peeled away, leaving behind a unique impression. The surface would then be besieged with pigment-laden spatulas or knives. The image field emerges out of this dynamic, multi-layered process. Untitled XXVIII, springs to life, with textual buoyancy, swirling with activated momentum, the surface is animated with areas of tactile softness, bumping, crumpling, furrowing and flexure. The complicated stages of paint application and the amended surfaces of the canvas were meant to emulate, in immediate human terms, the variable intensity of nature.

title

Untitled XXVIII

medium

Oil on canvas

signed

Signed "de Kooning" on the reverse.

creator

Willem de Kooning

exhibited

Houston, Janie C. Lee Gallery, Major Pictures, October 1978Seattle, Richard Hines Gallery, Willem de Kooning: Paintings, Sculpture, Drawings, January 23 – March 8, 1980Lisbon, Embassy of the United States, 1981Washington, D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Five Distinguished Alumni, The W.P.A. Federal Art Project: An Exhibition Honoring the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Centennial, January 21 - February 22, 1982, later traveled to East Hampton, Guild Hall (March 13 – April, 1982)

dimensions

60 x 54 in. (152.4 x 137.2 cm)

provenance

Xavier Fourcade, New York Private CollectionGagosian Gallery, New York Acquired from the above by the present owner


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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