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Elaine and Willem de Kooning

Artist
Hans Namuth, 17 Mar 1915 - 13 Oct 1990
Sitter
Elaine de Kooning, 12 Mar 1918 - 1 Feb 1989
Willem de Kooning, 24 Apr 1904 - 19 Mar 1997
Date
1953
Type
Photograph
Medium
Gelatin silver print
Dimensions
Image: 31.4cm x 27.3cm (12 3/8" x 10 3/4")
Sheet: 33.2cm x 27.8cm (13 1/16" x 10 15/16")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Estate of Hans Namuth
Restrictions & Rights
© Hans Namuth Ltd.
Object number
NPG.95.134
Exhibition Label
The development of Abstract Expressionism owed much to the freewheeling atmosphere of the Eighth Street Club, established in New York City in 1949 as a place for artists to socialize and discuss art. The painters Elaine and Willem de Kooning were both members and contributed to the Club’s ground breaking 1951 exhibition, which brought attention to this new generation of avant-garde artists, known as the New York School. Elaine de Kooning was among the few women included in this male-dominated milieu. Although she was overshadowed by her more famous husband throughout her career, her admiration for his work—and his harsh criticism of hers—fueled her determination to succeed. This photograph depicts the couple in Willem’s studio, posing before one of his controversial Woman paintings. Hans Namuth made the photograph at Elaine de Kooning’s request “to establish once and for all that I did not pose for those ferocious women.”
El desarrollo del expresionismo abstracto le debe mucho al ambiente libre del Eighth Street Club, espacio establecido en la ciudad de Nueva York en 1949, donde los artistas podían reunirse y hablar de arte. Los pintores Elaine y Willem de Kooning eran miembros, y contribuyeron a una revolucionaria exposición del Club en 1951 que puso de relieve a esta nueva generación de vanguardia conocida como la Escuela de Nueva York. Elaine de Kooning era una de las pocas mujeres incluidas en esta esfera dominada por hombres. Aunque durante su carrera estuvo a la sombra de su famoso marido, su admiración por la obra de él—y la dura crítica de su propio arte que recibió a cambio—alimentaron su empeño de triunfar. Esta foto muestra a la pareja en el estudio de Willem, delante de una de sus controvertidas pinturas de mujeres. Hans Namuth tomó la foto a petición de Elaine para “establecer de una vez y por todas que no fui la modelo para esas mujeres feroces”.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Exhibition
Portraits of the World: Denmark
On View
NPG, North Gallery 230a