De Kooning worked in both abstract and figurative modes, and the works in this group illustrate how he combined the two: abstracted shapes resemble figures, and anatomical fragments are repurposed in making his abstract compositions.
In the 1940s, de Kooning began experimenting with a reduced palette of black and white, explored in paintings and works on paper at several points across his career.
De Kooning often depicted groups of figures in interiors or in landscapes, sometimes tracing a figure from one composition to the next.
De Kooning made a series of paintings of men early in his career, and depicted the male figure again in the early 1970s.
De Kooning’s images of women span his career, and range from beautifully detailed drawings to paintings that approach abstraction.
De Kooning turned to painting with renewed vigor in 1975, making large, brightly colored abstract paintings done with gestural brushstrokes.
The paintings in this series resemble glimpses of landscapes as seen from a moving car, and are characterized by large brushstrokes done with the “full arm sweep” and the colors blue, green, and yellow ocher.
In the early 1960s, de Kooning’s palette shifted to lighter rococo hues of pink, yellow, and blue, reflecting the time he spent on the East End of Long Island, where he would move permanently in 1963.
This group of paintings immediately followed de Kooning’s third Woman series, and alludes to close-up details of the female figure, as well as features of the urban landscape.
After he moved to Springs, Long Island, in 1963, de Kooning explored the theme of figures in a landscape in both charcoal drawings and large oil paintings.
The paintings in this group are characterized by layers of varied white paint over islands of primary colors, with tentacular bands that allude to figures.
Many of de Kooning’s earliest surviving artworks explore the traditional subject of the still life.