Sat, May 2, 2015 11:00AM EDT - Sun, May 3, 2015 11:00AM EDT
Willem de Kooning (Dutch/American, 1904-1997), "Woman (Study for Marilyn Monroe)"-circa 1950s, mixed media on paper, signed lower left "de Kooning". Unframed sheet size approximately 13.25" x 9.25". Framed approximately 24.75" x 20.75". In the summer of 1952, de Kooning temporarily paused on his large painting "Woman I" and took refuge at his summer home in Easthampton, New York, where he produced dozens of pastel figural works revisiting the form in "Woman I". As a result, his pastel drawings aided his development of one of his most successful works. This lot could have origins from this time period in his artistic career. This pastel on paper features a nude female figure depicted at near center with blonde hair, flared nostrils, red lips, and rounded breasts, stomach and thighs in the artist's signature aggressive and loose handling of the medium. Given the color palette and form, this work may possibly have functioned as a study for his later piece "Marilyn Monroe"-1954 (currently housed at the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, New York) due to its use of yellow in the blonde hair of woman, as well as, the blue and red pastel accents throughout. A similar pastel nude study drawing was featured at Gagosian Gallery's exhibition in the spring and summer of 2000, "Willem de Kooning: Mostly Women". This exquisite pastel drawing exhibits the artist's skillful use of gesture, line, color, and form found in the artist's paintings and can be seen as a process work that without a doubt influenced his critically-acclaimed masterpieces. As Kurlander wrote of the de Kooning pastel work currently housed at the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, "Drawing had always played a critical role in de Kooning's practice. The sustained analysis of planar form and increasingly gestural attack that characterize drawings from the late 1930s culminated in the Woman paintings of the late '40s to the mid '50s, when his drawing, both as a medium of investigation and a repertory of mark-making, became inseparable from the artist's concept and process of painting." Note: Breaking from his standard use of applying darkest color pigments first in his paintings, his pastel works used dark and light tones concurrently creating a stacked complex composition. This work displays use of dark and light tones intermittently with the artist's heavy application, translucent handling of medium and overlapping gestural marks. Provenance: Purchased in 2008 by Dr. Daniel Byrd of Atlanta from Mr. Anthony Larson, United Kingdom. According to Mr. Larson, he purchased it from an estate sale of a deceased American collector who was living in the Kensington area of London, England.
This lot is accompanied with an appraisal from Francis Aronson Fine Art, Atlanta, Georgia dated August 28, 2013.
Work not laid down and with clear corners on mat board to support paper. Remnant of older hinging tape on top edge of verso. Deckled edge on right side of paper with minor loss below upper right corner. Light even toning to sheet. Left edge of paper with light brown discoloration, not visible when in frame. Minor wear to edges and corners from light handling. Scattered small fingerprints on left side (possibly original to work or from handling). No signs of additional holes, rips or tears. Colors rich and vibrant with no signs of fading. Paper in stable condition with little to no signs of foxing, mold or abrasions.