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De Kooning: A Retrospective Hardcover – September 30, 2011
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Elderfield (emer., MoMA) offers an introductory essay that analyzes early critical approaches to the artist and acquaints readers with the spatial complexities of de Kooning's paintings. Dwelling upon de Kooning's use of preparatory sketches and recycled pictorial elements, the author deflates the rhetoric of action painting that has oversimplified the artist's work. Subsequent essays by Elderfield, Mahony, and Jennifer Field offer erudite studies of everything from the WPA works and the "Woman" series to de Kooning's "full arm" "urban landscapes" and the torqued ribbons of his late canvases. This is a catalogue about biography, sources (many of them from pre-modern painting), process, form, and-particularly in the studies of major works by conservationists Jim Coddington and Susan F. Lake-materials…the many reproductions are invaluable, and Delphine Huisinga's meticulous chronologies are a boon to researchers. (S. K. Rich Choice)
This volume magnifies and clarifies the great exhibition's many facets, honoring the complexity of de Kooning's historical presence and his work's lasting fascination. Short essays examine various aspects of nine distinct phases of his career; to each phase is appended a detailed chronology and an analysis of materials and methods used in a single representative canvas. In his idiosyncratic syntax, de Kooning once described himself as a "slipping glimpser," referring to his preference for the incomplete or provisional information that a dynamic viewpoint affords, and this teeming book aptly provides slipping glimpses of one of the giants of 20th-century painting. (Maine Stephen Art in America)
"De Kooning: A Retrospective" is a superlative exhibition. (Its catalogue is equally fantastic.) (Tyler Green Modern Art Notes/ARTINFO)
Bring open eyes and an open mind, for if you cherish the ox of any aesthetic of ideological bias, de Kooning will gore it. (Peter Schjeldahl The New Yorker)
The Museum of Modern Art's generous, even prodigal De Kooning retrospective is the most ambitious show New York has seen in a long time - a lavish, knotty and definitive tribute to a tricky and alloyed genius. (Ariella Budick Financial Times)
"…the first comprehensive look at de Kooning's work in nearly 30 years…" (Carol Vogel The New York Times)
"De Kooning: A Retrospective," at the Museum of Modern Art, is the most piercing, inexhaustible, and relentlessly intense full-on career survey I have ever seen in this country. (Jerry Saltz New York Magazine)
If you are looking for something jaw-dropping, then look no further than this sprawling retrospective devoted to one of the most important figures in 20th century American painting. (Carolina Miranda WNYC Culture)
Predictably awe-inspiring… In its scale, crème-de-la-crème editing and processional sweep, it's MoMA in excelsis, and for many people it will probably represent this institution's history-writing at its best. (Holland Cotter The New York Times)
The first retrospective since de Kooning's death in 1997, it will give us our first opportunity to experience the artist from start to almost-finish. (Kelly Devine Thomas ARTnews)
Top customer reviews
The reproductions are mostly really good; the text informative and sophisticated, with Elderfield's intro possibly at his best. The structure is clear and logical -- of course de Kooning's work lends itself to structuring the presentation into clear periods. Differently colored pages in each of the chronological sections, minutely explicate the materials he used -- a wonderful and valuable feature! real kudos for that! -- and are appropriately accompanied by reproductions of details. The chronologies in each section are very useful as well -- the selections that went into these are necessarily a little subjective, but that's to be expected. A marvellous and almost definitive book for anyone who admires de Kooning's work!
I say almost definitive, because it covers the specific selection of his work for the MoMA retrospective -- a proper catalog -- which should not be confused with his entire oeuvre. As such, it suffers a bit from the overemphasis on the Women paintings of the 50's, and the underrepresentation of e.g.: his great late-50's abstractions, a lack one felt in viewing the exhibition itself. And anyone who was lucky enough to see MoMA's presentation of de Kooning's late paintings some 20+ years ago, as I was, understands fully the pleasures and the benefits of seeking out the work that did not make it into this exhibition -- and catalog. After all, I have NEVER seen a de Kooning painting in a public collection that did not "work" as a painting -- and he was a prolific painter!
Highly recommended and a must-have in any arts library.
LOVE DEKOONING i live right by his studio in the Hamptons. He is one of the greatest inspirations and uplifting spirits ever to paint. Thank you for a wonderful Exploration into his life. and work. the book is like a Bible for art.