Willem de Kooning, Woman with Corset and Long Hair, 1970. Courtesy of Sragow Gallery.

Willem de Kooning: Lithographs

Willem de Kooning, the Abstract Expressionist famous for his gestural portraits of women, created his first lithograph on a whim. In 1960, the New York-based painter traveled to the Bay Area and visited the newly opened print studios at the University of California, Berkeley. There, de Kooning discovered two oversized lithographic stones, each nearly four feet high, and a standard cleaning mop. In less than an hour, he slathered the cleaning tool across the stones to create two explosive images, titled Waves I and Waves II. A decade later, de Kooning revisited the lithography technique after a 1970 trip to Japan inspired him to create compositions reminiscent of Japanese calligraphy and Sumi ink painting. Upon return, he began his most …

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