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Willem De Kooning: Tracing the Figure [Hardcover]

Cornelia Butler

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Book Description

17 April 2002
Willem de Kooning, one of the pioneers of Abstract Expressionism, experimented with the human form throughout his career. An artist deeply sceptical about Western ideals of beauty, he focused on anatomical fragmentation and spatial ambiguity to express the fleeting nature of the individual. This book, published in conjunction with an exhibition originating at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, explores de Kooning's drawings of the female form between 1940 and 1955. It reveals an artist who struggled to eliminate traditional barriers between drawing and painting as he explored ambiguities between the figure and its background. De Kooning relied on early-20th-century abstraction in his initial attempts to redefine the figure, drawing and re-drawing the same line until he resolved the image. Beginning in 1947-49, he synthesized abstraction and figuration, dismembering figures and rearranging them with seeming randomness. As his figural compositions developed, geometric configurations transformed into architectural elements (suggesting windows, doors, mirrors, paintings and furniture) to create ambiguous space. In 1951, de Kooning abruptly returned to depictions of women. Usi

Product details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (17 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 069109618X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691096186
  • Product Dimensions: 34.5 x 24.7 x 3.2 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,820,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


This wonderfully produced book traces de Kooning's development from early figurative drawings to the studies that . . . ended up defining his career. -- Modern Painters

About the Author

Cornelia Butler is Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, where she has organized numerous exhibitions, most recently "Flight Patterns" and "The Social Scene." Paul Schimmel is Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. His exhibitions include "The Interpretive Link," "The Figurative Fifties," and "Out of Actions." Richard Shiff is Effie Marie Cain Regents Chair in Art and directs the Center for the Study of Modernism at the University of Texas, Austin. He is the author of Cezanne and the End of Impressionism. Anne Wagner is Professor of Art History at the University of California, Berkeley. She has published Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux and Three Artists (Three Women).

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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book 4 Jun 2005
By Austin Ivansmith - Published on Amazon.com
I bought this book as a gift for my girlfriend's birthday and I was shocked by the size of the book. There are tons of images in the book, most seem to span his career from pencil drawings of his wife to the more familiar works like the one on the cover (which take up most of the works in the book, thank goodness.) The images are laid out with great focus, my only complaint is that some of the images aren't bigger, but then they would have to cut across the seam more.

The book is big, it weighs a lot, it has mostly pictures of his works, there is only 1 picture per page (no distracting, busy design), and a small biography in the back. A very good deal for the price, you get your money's worth.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great study of a master of drawing 8 April 2007
By Reich Claude - Published on Amazon.com
If you don't like De Kooning, maybe you should rethink and stop to look at his wonderfully traced drawings which exhude life, violence and passion. This book is the first such publication and it may be the only opportunity to see so many drawings together (drawings do not like daylight and therefore are rarely exhibited). Definitely worth it, especially for the high quality of the illustrations which are all in color and often give you the impression of holding the actual drawing in your own hands.
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