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Willem de Kooning: Der Glaser
Der Glaser, 1940, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Collection Thomas B. Hess, 1984; © The Willem de Kooning Foundation, ARS, New York, VBK, Wien, 2005

So there I was, walking down Kohlmarkt, probably Vienna’s most luxurious street, wondering what to contribute to March issue of Shift’s Info-World. Inspired by the beautiful architecture and art galleries I spontaneously decided to drop into Kunstforum, which is hosting
Vienna’s first major exhibition devoted to Dutch-born American artist Willem
de Kooning.

Willem de Kooning: Ohne Titel IX
Ohne Titel IX, 1982, Ol auf Leinwand, Privatbesitz; Image: © The Willem de Kooning Foundation, ARS, New York, VBK, Wien, 2005; Foto: © The Willem de Kooning Foundation

“De Kooning (who would have turned 100 last spring) is one of the sturdier pillars of American art, along with John Singleton Copley, Frederic Church, Stuart Davis, Jackson Pollock and quite a few others”, writes the Guardian. At Kunstforum I’m told that the difficulty of organising such a retrospective lies in literally “getting the work together”. In fact, with the colossal inflation of de Kooning’s prices before and after his death, owners of his early works, which are said to be the best, are getting really tight when it comes to lending. Few can afford to move the stuff, insurance costs being what they are, and nobody wants to risk damaging it.

Willem de Kooning: Frau auf einem Schild I
Frau auf einem Schild I, 1967, Ol auf Papier auf Leinwand, Privatbesitz, Gagosian Gallery, New York; © The Willem de Kooning Foundation, ARS, New York, VBK, Wien, 2005; Foto: © Gagosian Gallery, Robert McKeever

However, rather than “talking shop”, which is definitely not my strength, I should refer to John Mekert, who wrote the catalogue for the 1984 De Kooning retrospective in New York: “The creative force of eros has merged with the flux of a shapeless magma of light and unbound matter drifting towards congealment into form.”

Yikes! I think I’d better leave you alone now so that you can indulge your passion for beautiful art and get carried away…

Willem de Kooning Exhibition
Curators: Ingrid Brugger, Florian Steininger
Organisation: Angelika Scholz
Date: 13 January – 28 March 2005
Place: Kunstforum
Open: daily 10:00 – 19:00, Friday 10:00 – 21:00

Text: Christina Merl

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