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Willem de Kooning (American, born the Netherlands, 1904–1997), Lily Pond, oil on canvas, 1959. 70 5/16 x 80 1/8 in. Gallery 8
Without knowing the title of this painting, would you guess it is a landscape? Perhaps not, but verisimilitude was not Willem de Kooning’s goal. Instead, he sought to absorb the landscape around him and translate it into an abstract language of paint on canvas. Entering the United States as a stowaway on a ship in 1926, Dutch-born de Kooning supported himself as a housepainter and later by working on large-scale murals for the Works Project Administration (WPA). He produced his breakthrough body of abstract work in the mid-1940s, when he and Jackson Pollock became known as the two primary purveyors of gestural Abstract Expressionist painting.
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