148
148
Willem De Kooning
SELF-PORTRAIT IN THE WILDERNESS
Estimate
500,000700,000
LOT SOLD. 749,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
148
Willem De Kooning
SELF-PORTRAIT IN THE WILDERNESS
Estimate
500,000700,000
LOT SOLD. 749,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Nov 2013 Contemporary Day

|
New York

Willem De Kooning
1904 - 1997
SELF-PORTRAIT IN THE WILDERNESS
signed
oil and charcoal on board
20 by 22 in. 50.8 by 55.9 cm.
Executed in 1947.
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Provenance

Allan Stone Gallery, New York
Lawrence Groo, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above

Exhibited

Detroit, J. L. Hudson Gallery, Willem de Kooning: Three Decades, March - April 1968
Roslyn, Nassau County Museum of Fine Arts, The Abstract Expressionists and their Precursors, January - March 1981, cat. no. 17, p. 31, illustrated in color
Evanston, Terra Museum of Art, Solitude-Inner Visions in American Art, September - December 1982, cat. no. 53, p. 32, illustrated in color
Southampton, Parrish Art Museum, Painting Naturally: Fairfield Porter and His Influences, April - June 1984, illustrated
New York, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, Evolution in Action, September - October 2011

Literature

Charles Stuckey, "Bill de Kooning and Joe Christmas," Art in America, March 1980, No. 5, p. 70, illustrated in color
Exh. Cat., New York, Haunch of Venison, Abstract Expressionism: A World Elsewhere, 2008, fig. 4, p. 17, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

Painted during a crossroads in his life, De Kooning's Self-Portrait in the Wilderness, along with the magnificent Self-Portrait from 1947, are two of the few extant self-portraits painted by this most important of 20th century artists. At the time, de Kooning was an unfortunate 43 year old who was confronting severe financial difficulties and had not yet even been granted a solo gallery show. Also enduring an unraveling marriage to Elaine de Kooning, the artist found himself on the precipice of crisis facing economic, emotional and creative ruin. Struggling to reconcile the figurative and abstract forces that were propelling his work toward the inexorable apex of Woman I, de Kooning produced this incredibly intimate and revealing portrait of himself as a lone man in the wilderness.

Here, naked, alone, gazing skyward toward an unknown focus, de Kooning portrays himself holding what appears to be a paintbrush in one hand, while the other grasps his chest in an impassioned gesture mixing angst and exasperation. He is surrounded, almost enveloped by deep greens and ochres which at once recall the majestic landscapes of his beloved Hamptons, while simultaneously representing the abstract shapes which were a hallmark of his work at the time. Reminiscent of subjects such as St. John in the Wilderness , St. Francis in Ecstasy, and the Temptation of Christ, de Kooning creates a composition that, similar to his entire oeuvre, balances tradition with progress.  

Nov 2013 Contemporary Day

|
New York