This work belongs to a group of abstractions inspired by the landscape. In them de Kooning simplified his visual vocabulary to a few powerful, expansive brushstrokes that evoke the vistas of color found in the natural world. He described the experience that inspired these works: “Just coming around roads, some place, and having the sensation of a piece of it, a piece of nature, like a fence, something on the road. And I really get very elated by again looking, by again seeing that the sky is blue, that the grass is green.”
Gallery label from Abstract Expressionist New York, October 3, 2010-April 25, 2011.
By the late 1950s, de Kooning had turned away from the urban crush of Manhattan. In 1959, he purchased land in the hamlet of Springs, Long Island, where he lived from 1963 until his death in 1997. Inspired by the light and water of the Springs shoreline and the landscapes he saw while traveling in Italy, he produced a group of abstractions in the early 1960s in which he sought to capture the experience of seeing fleeting glimpses of nature. Among this group is A Tree in Naples. De Kooning was enjoying acclaim for his figurative work when he turned back to abstraction in these paintings. Simplifying his approach and utilizing the wide brushes he had used as a house painter. His work is often understood as a celebration of the transitory as a form of action painting, it is characterized as much by careful revision and planning as by fluid bursts of improvisatory movements.
Additional text from In The Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting online course, Coursera, 2017