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  • Design Credit: Elizabeth Roberts Architec̦ture & Design, Photo Credit: Dustin Aksland. Dimensions: H 41 in. x W 39.5 in.
  • Design Credit: Timothy Godbold, Photo Credit: Karl Simone. Dimensions: H 41 in. x W 39.5 in.
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Willem de Kooning
"Spoleto" Willem de Kooning 1970s Abstract Expressionist Print

1974

$1,200

About

Vivid and colorful offset lithograph by the pioneer of the Abstract Expressionist movement, Willem de Kooning. De Kooning was commissioned by the Spoleto Festival of Music, Theatre, and Art in Spoleto, Italy in 1974 to design a promotional poster in honor of the city's annual celebration. The artist's famously irreverent brushwork envelops the entirety of the composition in radiant swaths of yellow, pink, green, blue, orange, and red with 'SPOLETO' cheekily scrawled in large letters across lower center.

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About the Artist

Willem de Kooning

As the de facto leader of the New York avant-garde art movement of the 1950s known as Abstract Expressionism, Dutch-American painter Willem de Kooning blended figuration and abstraction in a revolutionary manner that has resonated for decades. His best-known paintings, which were most often of women but gesturally abstract, were unique and incredibly influential at the time. Today, de Kooning is widely considered one of the most important artists of the 20th century.

De Kooning trained in fine and commercial arts at the Rotterdam Academy in his hometown of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, before immigrating to the United States in 1926. His first job in America was as a house painter in New Jersey, and the period left an indelible impression on him as he brought large brushes, loose strokes and fluid paints into his work as an artist. He also worked on public murals under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) program in the 1930s. De Kooning’s studies weren’t executed but they included some of his first abstractions, which showed the influence of like-minded artists as well as the music of the Jazz Age. His broad foundation in classical drawing and physical labor are evident even in the most abstract of his works, which amounted to a fusion of Cubism, Expressionism and Surrealism.

It was in New York that de Kooning found the space and an abundance of inspiration to pursue art full time. Surrounded by prominent artists like Jackson Pollock, Arshile Gorky, Lee Krasner and Fernand Léger, de Kooning drew from the freedom and boldness with which they all approached their work. In 1943, he married Elaine de Kooning, a versatile and immensely talented New York painter with a significant role in the Abstract Expressionist movement.

A major motif in de Kooning’s work is the deconstructed female form. A collection of paintings demonstrative of this is now known as his “Woman” series of the early 1950s, which remains controversial more than half a century later. Drawing inspiration from photography in magazines and using vivid colors and expressive brushstrokes to unforgettable effect, de Kooning depicted his subjects as grotesque, sexualized and loosely abstracted forms, which many critics deemed angry and misogynistic. But it is this very fearlessness in visual and conceptual experimentation that made de Kooning a crucial figure of Abstract Expressionism.

Today, de Kooning’s work is among the most coveted art in the world. His Interchange (1955), with its bold lines and shapes executed in primary colors, is one of the most expensive paintings ever sold.

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