How to paint like Willem de Kooning | IN THE STUDIO

Learn how to paint like Willem de Kooning, one of the key artists of the postwar Abstract Expressionist style, also referred to as “action painting,” with IN THE STUDIO instructor Corey D’Augustine.

Explore the techniques of other New York School painters like Kusama, Rothko, and Pollock in MoMA’s new free, online course, “In the Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting.” Sign up:

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Over the course of a career lasting nearly seven decades, de Kooning would work through a wide array of styles, eventually cementing himself as a crucial link from New York School painting to European modernism.

Physical labor and countless revisions were constants in his work, which ranged from abstraction to figuration, often merging the two. “I never was interested in how to make a good painting…,” he once said. “I didn’t work on it with the idea of perfection, but to see how far one could go…”

The female figure was an especially fertile subject for the artist. His paintings of women were among his most controversial works during his lifetime and continue to be debated today.

After conversations with The Willem de Kooning Foundation, MoMA would like to share the following corrections with our viewers:

Though many of de Kooning’s paintings have very thick surfaces relative to more traditionally approached paintings, there is no evidence of any painting that has close to the 2 inch thick surface that our video indicates.

There is no evidence that de Kooning ever had or used a six foot long brush as indicated in the video. Long brushes were given to de Kooning as gifts, and he likely experimented with them. However, he did not regularly use them. It appears instead that de Kooning often used shorter brushes, such as house painters’ brushes, and regularly walked away from the canvas to look at it from a distance.

De Kooning used underdrawings as starting points to generate ideas to explore in painting as opposed to as warming up exercise as indicated in the video.

Education at MoMA is made possible by a partnership with Volkswagen of America.

Featuring Corey D’Augustine, Educator and Independent Conservator.

The comments and opinions expressed in this video are those of the speaker alone, and do not represent the views of The Museum of Modern Art, its personnel, or any artist. 

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