Elaine de Kooning (1918-1989)
Artist, art writer and critic,
Born Elaine Marie Catherine Fried in Brooklyn, New York, on March 12, 1918, she studied at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School and the American Artists School in New York City. She met Willem de Kooning in 1938, and they
Although De Kooning used the abstract expressionist form, with its energetic strokes of intense color, she also executed numerous portraits. Her most famous series of portraits, painted on commission from the White House, is of U.S. president John F. Kennedy. She traveled to West Palm Beach, Florida, to make painted sketches of Kennedy and spent much of 1963 working on a presidential portrait of him for the Truman Library. Following Kennedy's assassination in November 1963, she stopped painting for a year and devoted her time to teaching and sculpture.
The first of her immense canvases in the Bacchus series, based on a nineteenth-century sculpture she saw in the Jardins du Luxembourg in Paris, France, were painted in her studio on the UGA campus during her tenure as Dodd Visiting Professor, from 1976 to 1978. In 1977 De Kooning spent the summer in Cortona, Italy, with the UGA Study Abroad program. Over the course of her career, she taught at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; the University of California, Davis; Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Yale University Graduate School in New Haven, Connecticut; and the Parsons School of Design in New York City, among others. Her paintings are in the collections of major museums, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens, and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Elaine de Kooning died of lung cancer in 1989.
Jane K. Bledsoe, Elaine de Kooning, exhibition catalog (Athens: Georgia Museum of Art, 1992).
Lee Hall, Elaine and Bill, Portrait of a Marriage: The Lives of Willem and Elaine de Kooning (New York: HarperCollins, 1993).
April Kingsley, The Turning Point: The Abstract Expressionists and the Transformation of American Art (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992).
John Taylor, "An Interview with Elaine de Kooning in Athens," Contemporary Art/Southeast 1.1 (April-May 1977).
Paul Andrew Manoguerra, Georgia Museum of Art
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