De figures in the process (Mahoney, 2011).

De Kooning, as mentioned above, was a key figure of the Abstract expressionism era.  De Koonings paintings represented the vigorous gestural style of the movement. De Kooning did more than any of his equals to develop a radical abstract style of painting that joined Cubism, Surrealism and Expressionism (Lanchner, 2011). He established his major reputation with a series of entirely abstract pictures. According to Lancher (2011), he felt drawn and intrigued towards the traditional subjects, which eventually led him to become most famous for his paintings of women, which he produced in various spells throughout his life. De kooning main points on his Figuration and The MovementDe Kooning had worked on the production of this series within a thirty-year period, which began in the early 1940s, however his paintings did not exhibit until 1953. According to Hess (2004), the focus of the show was the painting titled ‘Woman I’ (1952), a picture De Kooning began in the year 1950 and completed in the summer of 1952 (See images on page 10). This piece, however had a very hostile reception, which led it to become controversial. According to Zilczer (2014), people did not take too well to it as they were used to more genteel depictions of the female form. Many condemned his works and stated that they were violent and degrading towards women (Sylvester, 2012). De Kooning had strongly disagreed with the restrictions of naming movements and, while generally considered an Abstract Expressionist, he never fully withdrew from the representation of the human figure within his work. De Kooning’s paintings of women include  a unique balance of gestural abstraction and figuration. The Cubism of Picasso had heavily influenced these works, and De Kooning become a master at interpretation, blending figure and ground in his pictures while dismembering, re-assessing and distorting his figures in the process (Mahoney, 2011). Although known for continually reworking his canvases, De Kooning often left them with a sense of dynamic incompletion (Zilczer, 2104), as if the forms were still in the process of moving, settling and coming into definition. In this sense his paintings exemplify the term ‘action painting’ – his paintings like records of a violent encounter, rather than finished works in the tradition of fine painting (Swann, 2006).De kooning Main Influences  According to Taschen – Change taschen is publisher not author (2004), the most common influence for De Kooning and many other artists of his time was Pablo Picasso. De Kooning had often stood in front of Picasso’s paintings to analyse how the forms and shapes present in the painting worked structurally.  De Kooning noted how Picasso would bring together in his work cubist and surrealist ideas. This was something he had also practiced in his own unique way.  He believed Picasso to be a modern touchstone and as the one indispensable artist that is necessary to understand on almost a moral basis (Taschen, 2004). Numerous artists proved imperative for his growth in those early years. He also valued the example of Stuart Davis’s urban modernism, as well as John Graham’s ideas.(footnote)  Arshile Gorky was to be the biggest stylistic influence on De Kooning – “I met a lot of artists,” he once said, “but then I met Gorky.” In fact they subsequently became close friends. Gorky had been a major influence because he had spent years working through the Picasso Cubism era and then Miros Surrealism before reaching his own mature style, and in subsequent years, this would inspire De Kooning to follow a similar path (Herrera, 2003). Francis Bacon was also influential as De Kooning took ideas from the artist, those being the use of body parts; it was through these influences that De Kooning was able to create his current piece of work. Although De Kooning’s works were completed, with the criticism he gathered from his audience, it led him to leave pieces such as the ‘Women I’ to not be displayed. According to Mahoney and Elderfeild (2011), Clement Greenberg noted this and was a great attribute to leading De Kooning into displaying his masterpieces. Greenberg praised him and his figurative turn on the piece. Talking about a major painting of de koonings workDe Kooning’s confidently energetic animated style, with his own profuse gestural brushstrokes, meant that he was often branded as an Abstract Expressionist. However, his paintings often include identifiable figures, even if they are barely discernible. The central figure in The Visit is a woman with her legs spread out. In the right-hand angle is a shape that could be either the woman’s outspread hand or a face in profile looking over her. The title was proposed by one of De Kooning’s assistants, who thought that the Composition looked like a medieval painting of the Annunciation. (The Visit 1966-7) (Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery’s Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.397-8, reproduced p.397Conclusion/ comparisonWhen discussing each artist’s work, it becomes apparent that, as with any other artistic pieces, that these artists have their similarities and differences.  The main comparison highlighted would be how De Kooning in his works utilised a figurative style, with his main subject being based on the human figure. This, as we know, was highly incorporated in his series of paintings dedicated to women. Gorky on the other hand was less representational, meaning that his focus based on shapes, patterns and distinctive mark markings. De Kooning was an action painter in which he focused on the gestural style of painting. When painting you could see the anger and frustration, which in turn led him to re-work a painting many times. Gorky paintings were of a calmer effect, whereby his style mainly focused on colour pattern. The variation of colours and palette that both artists used to complete their work differed, with De Kooning using a colour palette with a variation of dark tones and shades. He used whites and fleshy pinks to portray skin tone, as his paintings were representational of the human figure.  A mixture of charcoals and oil paints were used within his paintings quite dominantly, highlighting a more angered approach than that of Gorky, whose paintings expressed calmness from within a more spiritual background (Lake, 2010).The colour scheme therefore differed to that of De Kooning as Gorky utilised warmer tones on his palette, which consisted mainly of blues, yellows, reds and orange. With this his pictures were quite bright and colourful which could reflect his mood at this specific time, showing how whilst painting he seemed to be in a calmer and peaceful mind-set in contrast to De Kooning who displayed a lot of anger, aggression and sadness. These artists came from different eras, De Kooning being more recent to that of Gorky. With the difference in the periods, it is obvious that they would have different views which would have influenced their subject matter. The two artists compare in that they both originate from the abstract expressionism movement. Another similarity would have been seen in De Kooning’s way of creating the human body, where he distorts and disfigures body parts likewise to Gorky’s approach.Gorky throughout his practice looked at the psychological relationship that occurred between music and art and used this as a tool for creating pieces whereas De Kooning did not.Although de kooning was without doubt very original, he had a supportive friendship with arshile Gorky that would immeasurably contribute to the expansion of his very own inventive ideals and standards at that time. This standard was crucial to de koonings work, particularly of the early 1930s and early 1940s. During this time, he employed and tailored the Gorky’s Concept of merging certain elements of past and contemporary masters. (Matthew,1999.)Although Gorky had much less theoretical training than de kooning, he was broadly known as the leader of the group of artists of that time. While de kooning’s training was complete and comprehensive, Gorky had been self-taught. Despite this, De kooning still followed the guidance, words and practice of de kooning to a great extent. De kooning had been captivated by Gorky’s rare skill and capability to generate art. (Matthew,1999.)Gorky was significantly influenced by surrealist paintings in the 1930s and 1940s, he would often portray male and female genitalia, following the surrealist obsession with sexuality. More importantly than this, as Sandler suggests, the Surrealists gave Gorky the self-assurance to trust on his own intuition, insights, and experience. De Kooning also looked upon surrealism as a big influence on his works. Gorky’s representation of the figure is more flamboyant and complex, while de kooning’s appears to be “a simple production of shape grafted onto other formal systems. (Robert,2010.)While both artists did implicate sexual orientations in their paintings throughout the same time, Gorky appeared even more so inclined by the surrealists. Gorky is known to have had a much larger love for surrealism than that of de kooning.  Arshile Gorky and willem de kooning’s learning of art was very much varied, though it would have been remarked that they came from similar origins. The two friends held passionate discussions about what they felt art should really be and what it should stand for. As a result, a lot of their earlier practice and works expressed many of the same themes. While most other American Artists where really trying to in the most desperate of ways to break from the usual tradition of European artwork, De kooning and Gorky together strived to integrate these detached civilisations, and from there they had been able to attain their own voice within powerful personal works. These two artists were pivotal in the abstract expressionist era as they were key figures in the development and success of this movement. 


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