Woman

  • Willem de Kooning, Woman, ca. 1952-1953, pastel on paper mounted on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase from the Vincent Melzac Collection through the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program, 1980.5.3

The female body was a central theme in Willem de Kooning’s paintings of the 1940s and 50s. At the time this drawing was executed, the images from his Women series were becoming increasingly fragmented and chaotic. The inscription at the bottom right, to dear Ruth with love,” probably refers to the artist’s mistress and muse Ruth Kligman, a well-known art-world socialite about whom de Kooning famously remarked: She really puts the lead in my pencil.” It is possible that his embrace of the female figure may have taken on new immediacy during this period when he juggled his marriage to Elaine de Kooning, a relationship with Joan Ward, who bore him a child, and an affair with Kligman, who was Jackson Pollock’s mistress shortly before she took up with de Kooning.

Abstract Drawings, 2012

Title
Woman
Artist
Date
ca. 1952-1953
Location
Not on view
Dimensions
23 1218 12 in. (59.747.0 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Museum purchase from the Vincent Melzac Collection through the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program

Mediums
Mediums Description
pastel on paper mounted on canvas
Classifications
Keywords
  • Figure female – full length
  • Abstract
Object Number
1980.5.3
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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