John Elderfield, who curated the last big de Kooning survey for the Museum of Modern Art, said that originally the Woman series upset different people in different ways… Some were dismayed by the vulgar treatment of the female form… Elderfield’s take is that the paintings’ power stems in large part from their particular combination of a classic medium and aggressive subject matter. “He was using thick brushes and broad swaths of oil painting in this way in which Venetian painters have for centuries…, traditional techniques to make alarmingly modern paintings, and I think this hybrid quality made people uncomfortable.”(Jori Finkel, “Sacred or Sexist? After a Brazen Theft, Seeing de Kooning in a New Light,” NYTimes, 5-20-22)
There’s more alarm in the dismay it purportedly caused than there is in de Kooning’s gestural nude itself. Save “vulgar” for the Kardashians.
The photos detailing the work’s repair provide a nice close-up of pigment, stroke and surface.
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