de Kooning and painting

ciao ciaoI have been looking at mid-century American painting lately, in particular Philip Guston’s ‘black’ paintings of the 60s, and everything by Willem de Kooning.

As a young man in Rotterdam, de Kooning’s course of study, in the tradition of the guilds, melded training in decorative and art crafts. In Holland and then in New York he worked as a commercial painter while gradually committing to a life as an artist, and the tools and the tricks of his trade were adopted and transformed to become his process for creating an image.

The character of his mark making—his skill—is in his choice of the tool and quality of paint to match the requirements of the job at hand—the pragmatism of a worker.

The evidence of the making in de Kooning’s work and the face of the picture are one—as with a raku pot—the material of the object and transparency of craft is the appearance. So to look at his painting is always to see the image as it is constructed. And then, to think about how one decision must follow another. And consequence.