C&M Arts, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above
The vigorous gestural swathes of blue, white, yellow, and pink of Untitled (Blue Profundity)’s composition recall the angular shifts in perspective of the nomadic landscape. As described by Thomas Hess upon the debut of the series at Sidney Janis Gallery, “Most of them are landscapes and highways and sensations of that, outside the city, with the feeling of coming to the city or coming from it… paintings, angles and sections from the breasts and elbows of [de Kooning’s] Women, from the windows that open to their landscape, from their hands that had turned into meadows.” (Thomas Hess cited in Exh. Cat., New York, Museum of Modern Art (and travelling), de Kooning: A Retrospective, 2011, pp. 317-318) Liberated from the constrictions of the city, de Kooning's attention to light is more profound and the frenzied proliferation of stroke, form, and plane has now been reduced. Like Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park paintings, here de Kooning abridges a planar abstraction of space that seems to suggest the sun and sea as it pours in through a window frame—his guiding graphite marks, rivetingly present on the surface of the present work, reveal a heightened acuity to the spatial organization of a subjectively mediated landscape. De Kooning’s sumptuous strokes of paint, though intuitive and purely formal, simultaneously evoke a representational perspective by its highly geometric registers. This broad simplification of composition is matched by a reduction of palette to royal blue, sunlit gold, creamy white and organic brown, exuberantly deployed by de Kooning in Untitled (Blue Profundity) and the other landscapes of the late 1950s such as Ruth's Zowie and Bolton Landing of 1957. As Henry Geldzahler wrote, paintings of this period "are packed with shapes, allusions, actions and counteractions, they pile ambiguity on ambiguity; sometimes, it would seem, they are painted at lightning speed, at others in a more relaxed, contour-loving gesture." (Exh. Cat., New York, Gagosian Gallery, Willem de Kooning: Abstract Landscapes, 1955-1963, 1987, n.p.)
The artist's technique, brushwork, and use of color are dazzling in Untitled (Blue Profundity). Broad sweeps of yellow, blue, pearlescent white, and ocher create a vortex of color with an extraordinary bravura. With the architectural graphite lines sketching a template for his abstract design, de Kooning’s painting evokes the sense of personal experience of one’s surroundings, abstracted so as to negate a representational landscape in favor of an emotional interpretation. Paintings such as Untitled (Blue Profundity) are more concerned with the nature of painting as a means to translate the emotions engendered by de Kooning's new environment onto canvas. The selective palette, muscular gestures, and frontal configuration emphasize the texture of paint and the artist's luxuriant celebration of his medium.