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Willem de Kooning

American, born The Netherlands, 1904–1997

© 2010 The Willem de Kooning Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Gotham News, 1955

Oil on canvas
69 x 79 inches (175.3 x 200.7 cm)
Gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1955

Willem de Kooning's Gotham News is in some ways an expression of life in New York: crowded, confusing, and violent to some people; exciting, colorful and energetic to others; and, for many, a combination of both. "Gotham" is the setting of the Batman comics, which refers to New York, where de Kooning lived. "News" perhaps refers to the newsprint seen on the lower left and top center of the canvas, which was the result of his creation process.

The look of de Kooning's paintings often leads to the conclusion that the artist worked very quickly, when in fact the opposite was true. Although he did create his images spontaneously, without preparatory drawings, he placed each stroke with careful consideration, thinking for a while before continuing to the next stroke. The next day, he often reworked or painted over what he had done previously. Since wet paint is much easier to rework, de Kooning often covered the surfaces at night with newspaper to slow down the drying process. Occasionally the newsprint would transfer to the paint surface; he either painted over it, or liked the effect and left it.


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