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Willem de Kooning Portrait

Willem de Kooning

Also Known as: Willem De Kooning

Rotterdam, Netherlands 1904

East Hampton, New York 1997

Active in:

  • New York, New York

Photo Caption:
Willem de Kooning, 1946. Photograph by Harry Bowden. Courtesy Harry Bowden papers, 1922-1972, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.


Born in Holland, moved to the United States in 1924. Abstract Expressionist painter, known for his disturbing pictures of women, who became one of the dominant American artists of the 1950s.

Charles Sullivan, ed American Beauties: Women in Art and Literature (New York: Henry N. Abrams, Inc., in association with National Museum of American Art, 1993)

Additional Biographies

Born in Rotterdam in 1904, Willem de Kooning received the most formal academic training in art and applied arts, then worked in a commerical design firm in that city. Immigrating to the United States in 1927, he gravitated to the circle of artists forming in New York around John Graham and Arshile Gorky; the latter in particular became a close friend and confidant. Together, he and Gorky, the more mature painter, explored the problems facing their generation of artists. By the 1940s, de Kooning would execute some the most significant paintings in the era of Abstract Expressionism.

National Museum of American Art (CD-ROM) (New York and Washington D.C.: MacMillan Digital in cooperation with the National Museum of American Art, 1996)