Willem de Kooning, ‘Untitled’, Christie's

Willem de Kooning (1904-1997)


charcoal and oil on vellum

76 1/4 x 42 5/8 in. (193.6 x 108.2 cm.)

Executed circa 1972.

Signature: Untitled

Houston, The Menil Collection; Fort Lauderdale, Museum of Art; East Hampton, Guild Hall Museum; Aspen Art Museum and Washington, D.C., Corcoran Museum of Art, Willem de Kooning: In Process, January 2000-May 2001, pl. IV (illustrated in color and illustrated in color on the cover).

Willem de Kooning Vellums, New York, Mitchell, Innes & Nash, exh. cat., 2001, pp. 4 and 39 (illustrated in color).

J. Elderfield, De Kooning: A Retrospective, 2011, New York, Museum of Modern Art, exh. cat, p. 426, fig. 5 (illustrated in color).

Willem de Kooning Estate, New York

Private collection, London

Anon. sale; Sotheby's, London, 10 February 2005, lot 42

About Willem de Kooning

A first-generation Abstract Expressionist, Willem de Kooning is one of the most important artists of the 20th century. In 1950s New York, when painters like Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline were moving away from representational imagery toward pure abstraction, de Kooning maintained a commitment to the figurative tradition, developing a signature style that fused vivid color and aggressive paint handling with deconstructed images of the female form—a then-controversial body of works that has become known as his “Women” paintings. “Flesh was the reason oil paint was invented,” he famously said. Influenced by Arshile Gorky and Pablo Picasso, de Kooning was often thought to have blended Cubism, Expressionism, and Surrealism in his signature style, paving the way for generations of gestural figurative painters like Cecily Brown. Following his “Women” series, de Kooning pursued non-objective lyrical abstraction until his death in 1997.

Dutch, American, 1904-1997, Rotterdam, Netherlands, based in New York and East Hampton, New York