Willem de Kooning (1904 - 1997)
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Willem de Kooning was an Abstract Expressionist born in Rotterdam, Netherlands, where he spent his early years training at the Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts and Techniques. After moving to the United States in 1926, De Kooning was chosen to design and paint one of the 105 public murals at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Being influenced by Arshile Gorky, De Kooning turned his focus to male figures and lyrically colored abstractions. Over time, his work heightened in colors, elegant lines, and abstractions. One example of one of his representational, but also geometricized pieces is Woman and Standing Man, which suggests the presence of figures. Later in his career, De Kooning turned to black and white household enamels to paint large abstractions. His hallmark was placed on an emphasis on complex figure ground ambiguity. De Kooning taught at Black Mountain College in North Carolina and at the Yale School of Art. He was one of 17 prominent Abstract Expressionists and avant-garde artists to sign a letter to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, reprimanding its hostility towards advanced art. His work has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the National Gallery of Art.