Visual Descriptions

Willem de Kooning. Woman I. 1950–52 66

Oil and metallic paint on canvas, 6' 3 7/8" x 58" (192.7 x 147.3 cm). Purchase. © 2019 The Willem de Kooning Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Narrator 1: 6–6. Woman, I. Painted 1950 to 1952 by Dutch–born American artist, Willem de Kooning, 1904–1997. Oil on canvas, 76 inches high by 58 inches wide. 193 x 147 cm.

Narrator 2: Woman, I is a tall, rectangular painting, dominated by the powerful, ferocious, more–than–life–size figure of a woman. Big and bosomy, with broad shoulders, she fills the canvas from top to bottom. Her teeth are bared in a rigid grin, and her wide open eyes are so big they take up a third of her face. The whole canvas is painted in great, sweeping swathes of colorful paint. Yellows, orange–reds, greens—the bold colors from a child’s paintbox—mingle with thick dominant globs of grey and white, smudged on the canvas with apparent abandon. The paint has been applied and scraped away several times. In places it has run and has dried in long trickles down the canvas.

The figure, roughly outlined in black, merges with this hodgepodge of color. Her bold black eyes stare directly at the viewer. Two dots for nostrils, an almost lipless mouth with long bared teeth in a skull–like head. There is no indication of hair. Large, rounded, bulging breasts suggest she’s wearing a skin–tight white top or bra, with maybe a pink strap visible at the figure’s right shoulder, on the left side of the painting. Her hands rest on her skirt, which is composed of rough, horizontal brushstrokes of yellow, orange and blue. Salmon pink ankles emerge, with a suggestion of blueish–green strappy shoes. She seems to be sitting perched on a green step or footstool.

Narrator 1: To hear the Collection Tour audio on this work, press 4–0–5.

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