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Return to previous pageCurrent Exhibition

Elaine de Kooning: Portraits

March 13, 2015 - January 10, 2016


Elaine de Kooning’s gestural portraits of friends and family were much admired during her lifetime, and included such well-known Americans as poets Frank O’Hara and Allen Ginsberg, critic Harold Rosenberg, choreographer Merce Cunningham and painters Willem de Kooning and Fairfield Porter. De Kooning made both abstract and figurative paintings and drawings during the height of Abstract Expressionism in New York City. She is best known for her portrayals of men—Porter once commented that de Kooning’s images of men were “both sympathetic and frighteningly acute.” In her portraits, de Kooning sought and worked to capture the “instantaneous illumination” of recognition: What qualities beyond the attributes of the face make you recognize someone? She characterized her portraits of John F. Kennedy as “a glimpse” of the president through an accumulation of sketches and finished likenesses.

Curated by Brandon Brame Fortune, the Portrait Gallery’s chief curator and senior curator of painting and sculpture, the exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated publication.


When you visit the exhibition please use our Guide by Cell mobile application:

Las traducciones al español están disponibles en tu smartphone o tablet vía Guide By Cell
Texto: EDKSP para 56512

English language large type labels are also available for hand-held devices:
Text: EDKEN to 56512

Spanish translations of exhibition labels are available below:

Traducción en español de las leyendas de la exposición Elaine de Kooning: Portraits

Download exhibition labels for Elaine de Kooning: Portraits

Three films are also shown in the exhibition and English and Spanish transcriptions are available below:

Elaine de Kooning on the Joop Sanders portraits
Elaine de Kooning
Elaine de Kooning Paints a Portrait

Elaine de Kooning habla sobre los retratos de Joop Sanders
Elaine de Kooning
Elaine de Kooning pinta un retrato

The Guide By Cell mobile applications have been made possible with support from the Philip and Elizabeth Ryan Fund.


The Burghers of Amsterdam Avenue
Private Collection
© Elaine de Kooning Trust


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