Harold Rosenberg, an art critic, promoted de Kooning as the avant garde artist, who demonstrated and introduced the new direction for art. Clement Greenburg promoted Jackson Pollock in the same way. Which artist do you think is the best representative of the avant garde in that era? Why?

Above two images courtesy of The Willem de Kooning Foundation

  • Do you like his paintings of females? Why or why not?

  • How are his abstract images similar to his figurative paintings?

  • Do his abstract paintings elicit the same emotion or intensity of emotion as his figurative paintings? Why or why not?

  • Compare Elaine to Woman I. What similarities do you see between Elaine and Woman I?

  • Do you think Woman I is a specific woman or the embodiment of Woman? Why?

  • How did de Kooning feel about Woman I? Did he like her? How do you know?

  • Is Woman I nice? Is she happy? Does she have the capacity to be happy or nice?

  • Why didn’t de Kooning depict males in the same way?

  • De Kooning trained at the Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts and Techniques. Is his training evident in all of his paintings? How?

  • Why did he flatten his figures rather than keeping them dimensional?