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MAGNIFICENT GESTURES: MASTERWORKS FROM THE DIAMONSTEIN-SPIELVOGEL COLLECTION FULL PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT A NOT-FOR-PROFIT CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

Willem De Kooning
UNTITLED
JUMP TO LOT
14

MAGNIFICENT GESTURES: MASTERWORKS FROM THE DIAMONSTEIN-SPIELVOGEL COLLECTION FULL PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT A NOT-FOR-PROFIT CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

Willem De Kooning
UNTITLED
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York

Willem De Kooning
1904 - 1997
UNTITLED
signed
pencil, charcoal and pastel on board
14 1/2 by 16 7/8 in. 36.8 by 42.9 cm.
Executed circa 1949.
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Provenance

James Goodman Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above

Literature

Exh. Cat., Washington, D. C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (and travelling), Willem de Kooning from the Hirshhorn Museum Collection, 1993, p. 38, fig. 17, illustrated (dated as 1947-1949)

Catalogue Note

Executed just one year prior to Willem de Kooning’s pivotal Woman I of 1950, Untitled provides a rare glimpse into one of the Twentieth Century’s greatest modern masters working through what would become his most significant and iconic series. The present work, the forebear of that crucial painting that would come to recalibrate de Kooning’s career, remains a dynamic and expressive study in which the artist deftly balances a stunning interplay of linear elegance and heroic gesture. Bursting forth from the diminutive format of the paper, the small scale belies the energetic vigor of de Kooning’s action.

The geometric shapes and lines making up the woman’s body describe space with great precision, positing the figure in a tradition of synthetic Cubism whereby various planes intersect and overlap with extraordinary force. Although not grounded in a specific environment, the woman is firmly asserted in confident marks of charcoal and pencil, and punctuated by areas of extraordinary pastel color. Round sensuous forms of shoulders, breasts and hips, juxtaposed with severe sharp angles create a composition that oscillates between figuration and abstraction. Surrounded by rectangular forms that jut upwards into the sky, approximating a cityscape, and sidelined by a sun bursting with triangular rays, de Kooning's woman is one with her environment. In contrast to the intense gestural force that describes the woman’s figure, de Kooning has softened the features of and spent extensive time modelling her face. Triangular eyes rise upward, hopeful and curious, imbuing the present work with tenderness not often seen in the artist’s corpus. A rare and deeply treasured icon of arguably one of the most important series of post-war paintings, Untitled embodies the passion and commitment with which de Kooning approached this subject.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York