Thursday, January 27, 2011

14 Facts: Willem de Kooning

In the 1930s, he was not allowed to be a WPA 
artist because he wasn’t a U.S. citizen. 

Though he received the American 
“Medal of Freedom” in 1964, he was still Dutch.

His early paintings were in black and white 
because those colors were cheaper to buy.

He refused to have his works exhibited next 
to those of Jackson Pollock in 1942 because 
he thought Jack the Dripper was too influenced, 
at that time, by surrealism.

Constantly dissatisfied with his work, 
he would scrape off a day’s work, the 
next day cover the canvas again, then scrape 
off that work, and repeat this endlessly. 
His scraping has been described as “muscular.”

He loved highway billboards.

He was an alcoholic. He had blackouts. 
He was violent. He beat his mistresses. 
Sometimes he slept in the gutter. 
His wife secretly administered to him a 
drug that made him sick when he drank.

In 1989 one of his paintings sold at auction 
for $20.8 million, a record price for 
work by a living artist.

At a 1954 croquet party as a lark he 
painted the seat of a three-hole outhouse. 
Though valued at between $10,000 and $1 million, 
it failed to find a buyer at a 1992 auction.

When his paintings of women were called “insolent” 
and “degrading," he replied, 
“I was painting the woman in me.” 
His mother ran “a tough seaman’s bar.” 

He called himself “a slipping glimpser.” 
He often said “Content is a glimpse."

His mixed salad oil with his paints to make them slithery.

He and Paul McCartney were friends.

He had Alzheimer’s.

He died at the age of 92.