Elaine de Kooning 1920 - 1989 American Abstract Expressionism/ New York School Painters
In 1938, while immersed in her artistic training, Elaine Fried met Willem de Kooning. He became her mentor and, five years later, her husband. She was one of two women charter members of the Club, a group of New York School artists who met to discuss—often contentiously—art and life. Although associated with the second generation of Abstract Expressionists, she always maintained an interest in the figure as a source for her abstract representations. During the 1950s she did gestural portraits of contemporary colleagues and friends in the New York art and literary world, including Frank O’Hara, Fairfield Porter, and Harold Rosenberg. One of her most famous portrait commissions was of John F. Kennedy; she was working on it when he was assassinated. De Kooning began her tenure as a highly respected critic for ARTnews in 1948 and spent that summer at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, a utopian enclave that attracted the nation’s leading artists and writers as faculty and students. There she executed her sole completely abstract paintings, which were not exhibited until after her death. The de Koonings first came to the East End in the summer of 1951, as guests of Leo Castelli, and returned the next two summers. In 1954 they had a rental in Bridgehampton, the Red House, which they shared with Franz Kline and Nancy Ward. The de Koonings separated in 1957 but remained married, and they eventually reconciled in 1975. During this time, Elaine de Kooning painted and wrote, and taught at institutions across the country. The year of her reconciliation with her husband she purchased a house on Alewive Brook Road in East Hampton, where in 1978 she added a studio. Her late paintings from the 1980s focus on the imagery of the Paleolithic caves at Lascaux and Altamira.