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About the Artist

Elaine de Kooning (March 12, 1918 – February 1, 1989) was an Abstract Expressionist and Figurative Expressionist painter in the post-World War II era. She wrote extensively on the art of the perioid and was an editorial associate for Art Newsmagazine. On December 9, 1943, she married painter Willem de Kooning.


In 2016 de Kooning was one of twelve female artists featured in the "Women in Abstract Expressionism" show put forth by the Denver Art Museum. The purpose of this show was to highlight the unique talents and perspectives of female artists who, as was previously noted, were often dismissed or overshadowed by their male counterparts. The show later traveled to the Mint Museum and the Palm Springs Art Museum.


Elaine de Kooning was an accomplished landscape and portrait artist active in the Abstract Expressionist movement of the early twentieth century. She was a member of the Eighth Street Club (the Club) in New York City. The Club functioned as a space to discuss ideas. Among this group of artists were Willem de Kooning, Jimmy Rosati, Giorgio Spaventi, Milton Resnick, Pat Passlof, Earl Kerkam, Ludwig Sander, Angelo Ippolito, Franz Kline, Clyfford Still, and Hans Hofmann. A membership position for a woman was rare at this time.

Elaine promoted Willem’s work throughout their relationship. Along with her own work as a painter, she was committed to gaining recognition for her husband’s work. Though she was very serious about her own work, she was well- aware that it was often overshadowed by her husband’s fame. After showing their work in their 1951 exhibition at the Sidney Janis Gallery, Artists: Man and Wife, which also included Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth, and Jean Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Elaine said, "It seemed like a good idea at the time, but later I came to think that it was a bit of a put-down of the women. There was something about the show that sort of attached women-wives- to the real artists".

Artist CV




1952, 1954, 1956: Stable Gallery, New York;

1957: Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York;

1958: Museum of New Mexico Art Gallery, [Santa Fe, New Mexico];[14]

1959: Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, Connecticut;

1960: Ellison Gallery, Fort Worth, Texas;

1960, 1963, 1965, 1975: Graham Gallery, New York;

1964: "25 Portraits of J.F.K.", Peale House Gallery, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;

1979: "Bacchus, Works on Paper", Lauren Rogers Museum of Art and Library, Laurel, Mississippi;

1982: 86: Gruenebaum Gallery’ New York;

1983: "Elaine de Kooning and the Bacchus Motif", Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois;

1984: "Elaine de Kooning: New Paintings", C. Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, Maryland;

1991: "Black Mountain Paintings from 1948", Joan T. Washburn Gallery, New York;

2015: "Elaine de Kooning: Portraits", National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.




1951, 1953-1957: 9th Street Art Exhibition, the first "New York Painters and Sculptors Annual Exhibition" and subsequent 5 New York Artists’ Annual Exhibitions, Stable Gallery, New York;

1956: "Abstract Expressionism", circ., by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota; "Young American Painters", circ., The Museum of Modern Art, New York; "Pittsburgh International", Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh;

1958: "Action Painting, 1958", The Dallas Contemporary, Dallas, Texas;

1960: "Abstract Expressionists Painting of the Fifties", The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota;

1961: The Whitney Museum of American Art Annuals and Biennials, New York;

1964: "67th Annual American Exhibition: Directions in Contemporary Painting and Sculpture", The Art Institute of Chicago;

1980: "The Fifties: Aspects Painting in New York", Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; "Heads: An Exhibit of Portraits", C. Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, Maryland.

1990: "Four Centuries of Women’s Art", the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.; "East Hampton Avant-Garde, A Salute to the Signa Gallery", Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, New York.

1997: "Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art 1987–1997", the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.

2015: "Marks Made: Prints by American Women Artists from the 1960s to the Present", Museum of Fine Arts, St Petersburg, Florida[22]

2016: "Expanding the Narrative: Women Artists and Abstract Expressionism", The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA

2016: "Women in Abstract Expressionism", Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO​


The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

The Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO

The National Academy Museum and School, New York, NY

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles, CA

The National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Guild Hall Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, East Hampton, Long Island, NY

The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.

The Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery reportedly holds the largest museum collection of portraits by De Kooning.[23]


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