It should come as no surprise that a retrospective would be encyclopedic and this volume is. It starts with a great essay on de Kooning's life and work that my art pea-brain could appreciate but not fully comprehend. That's followed by a chronological progression through the various periods of de Kooning's work including timelines and, of course, plates of the artwork.
What I found most intriguing were brief Methods and Materials articles about how particular paintings were made including cross sections of paint layers, x-rays, and forensic analysis of how paint was applied.
I won't bore you with the details. For my friends who think abstract art is simply a spontaneous eruption of paint, there is an interesting pencil study of a particular painting that demonstrates the forethought that de Kooning put into his work.
I will share two works from the book that really caught my attention. The first isn't even a work on canvas. Woman 1951 is charcoal and pastel on paper. I just found it arresting. In case you're interested, it seems this 21.5 in. x 16 in. drawing sold for about $4 million in 2008.
|de Kooning, Woman, 1951|
|de Kooning, Painting, 1948|