Archives for category: Abstraction

The late paintings of De Kooning have always fascinated me. Here a man with alzheimer’s who has painted all his life continues to paint when he is detached and unaware of the outside world around him and yet still paints with consistently and with coherence! I went to a big exhibition of his at Pompidou Paris what a rush, I was just out of college and all my conceits about modernism and the abstract painters were called to question briefly. I saw the late paintings much later but respect to the geezer, after Alzheimer’s was diagnosed in his late eighties in the following years he painted more than 300 abstract paintings!

De Kooning was declared unfit to handle his affairs 22 years ago, shortly after the death of his wife, Elaine. From that time, information ceased to be available about artworks in his possession, including those still being worked on. His oeuvre was controlled primarily by Lisa de Kooning, his only child and heir; attorney John Eastman, the son of de Kooning’s longtime attorney Lee Eastman; and John Silberman, an attorney who represented Lisa and Eastman in their court application to be appointed as de Kooning’s conservators and later represented his estate. Lisa, Eastman, and Silberman largely determined how the artist’s works were cared for, exhibited, and sold during the last eight years of his life and after his death at the age of 92. 

When the estate was closed, in 2003, the foundation received 1,344 works, valued at $53.7 million. Lisa received works of an unspecified quantity and value and began collaborating with Gagosian to exhibit and sell them. “A lot of the good things are picked over,” says a source familiar with Lisa’s collection, which primarily contains paintings from the ’60s through the late ’80s. “The de Kooning estate is really just a name. There is volume but not necessarily quality.”

The foundation’s collection—which contains works of all periods, predominantly works on paper and a collection of paintings from the 1960s onward, including a significant number of 1980s paintings—is thought to be considerably more valuable than its initial valuation. This collection has never been represented by a dealer.

According to its IRS filings, three years ago the foundation sold a 1987 painting for $3.4 million (reported inventory value: $199,750); around the same time, it sold a 1984 painting for $3.9 million (reported inventory value: $246,750). Silberman won’t disclose who bought the works but says that the foundation does not sell to dealers or at auction.
Since its establishment in 2001, the foundation has sold 18 works for a total of $13 million. Silberman says that works are sold to pay for the administration of the foundation—whose stated purpose is to catalogue and maintain its own collection and archive and facilitate museum exhibitions and scholarly research about de Kooning. (Or, as Eastman describes its mission: “De Kooning is the greatest American artist ever. Prove it.”)

http://www.artnews.com/2011/09/08/shaping-de-koonings-legacy/

You can draw your own conclusions about their actions in the matter, but whatever the truth of his last years watching a video of this frail and vulnerable old man going instinctively about his painting struck a cord.

Untitled XII

Willem de Kooning
Date: 1983
Medium: Paintings
Size: unframed 80 x 70 x inches
Institution: Walker Art Center

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” –Carl Gustav Jung

 Zao Wou Ki


27-02-1998
51 x 76 inches (130 x 195 cm)

Met this geezer when I was an art student at Leeds Poly and had a scholarship to go to Paris in 1981. I was visiting Atelier 17 and Lacourière. He was printing at Lacourière, and living in Paris. He let me watch him work and I spent a great hour with him. Later when at the Royal College of Art studio at Cite Des Arts I met him again in 1983, inspirational.

http://www.abstraktion.org/2010/06/zao-wou-ki-is-blue-chip.html

Zao Wou-ki, now 82, found his distinctive voice and vocabulary in his mid-thirties, having by that time lived in Paris for a decade. By the end of 1957 he had committed to abstraction, on terms which from the beginning set him apart from the other artists of his circle—Mitchell, Riopelle, Vieira da Silva, Soulages—as much as from his great supporter Henri Michaux. His cypher-like signature, to which he has remained faithful for over fifty years, gives his first name in Chinese characters and his last in a Western orthography. It is emblematic of a stranded cultural identity, recognized from the first by sympathetic critics as the key to his artistic direction. The recognition, however, took the form of a view of Zao’s painting as an exemplary reconciliation of Chinese and European aesthetics, in which the language of modern Western abstraction is enriched by a Chinese sensibility rooted in the past.

(From the essay by Jonathan Hay)

http://www.asianart.com/exhibitions/zao/index.html

Singapore Art Gallery Guide – SAGG – Ian Davenport.

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