Elaine de Kooning was born in Brookyln, New York in 1918. She developed her interest in art through museum visits with her mother and younger sister. She studied at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School in New York and later met and married Willem de Kooning, a first generation Abstract Expressionist.
Elaine de Kooning was a prolific artist, art critic, portraitist, and teacher during the height of the Abstract Expressionists era and well beyond. Although, her early career was overshadowed by her husband. Elaine's artistic range, vast knowledge of media, and influence on fellow artists was undeniable. Many of her so-called pure abstract paintings were produced during the 1950s. Early in her career much of her work was composed of watercolors and still-life works, and later much of her art fused abstraction with mythology, primitive imagery, and realism. Elaine de Kooning's work continues to receive increasing attention, as she was one of the most important art teachers to have worked in the 20th century.
Within her own art, she retained her interest in figuration. In numerous series—“bullfights,” “basketball players,” and “Bacchus”—de Kooning brought the expressive gesture of Abstract Expressionism to bear on figurative subjects.
De Kooning had several solo gallery shows throughout her lifetime at museums including the Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey (1973), and Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, New York (1989). Her work was featured in the Museum of Modern Art–organized exhibition, Young American Painters (1956–58), which traveled throughout the United States (but was not presented in New York). De Kooning was also included in group shows at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1956); Pittsburgh International (now Carnegie International, 1956); Art Institute of Chicago (1964); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (1980); and Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton (1990). De Kooning died on February 1, 1989, in Southampton, New York.
Related categories: Black Mountain College, Action Painting, Abstract Expressionism, New York School, Post-War American Art, Modern and Impressionist Art, Gestural, Line, Form, and Color, Women Artists, United States, Painting, Large Brushstrokes/Loose Brushwork, Landscapes