1907 – 1960
Age of Global Conflict

de Kooning's Woman I


Willem de Kooning, Woman I, oil on canvas, 1950-52 (MoMA)

Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris, Dr. Steven Zucker

de Kooning, Woman I, 1950 (MoMA)

Your Comments (4)

Previous Comments

Erin Zenk wrote on Tuesday, May 01, 2012

I think these figures are not meant to be masculine, but more of an impression of a stronger woman coming out of the WWII area, more independent and stronger.

Sheryl Christianson wrote on Sunday, December 09, 2012

Maybe I just don't

Sandy Buckley wrote on Sunday, December 16, 2012

I find it interesting he layers so many paintings on top of each other. I wonder if the base eventually comes out as part of the painting.When he wipes down the canvas perhaps he leaves just a piece of the work and adds to it each time? Ultimately ending up with the distortion of the woman in this case.

Alix wrote on Tuesday, March 05, 2013

I don’t believe this work to be misogynistic or intends for the women to be masculine. As the commentator said the women can be viewed as ugly and masculine, however the same commentator also compared the figure to Venus of Willendorf who is a goddess of fertility; the essence of femininity. I agree with a visual comparison to Venus of Willendorf however I feel as if using the post war pinup as a method of analysing this figure is quite a reach. This can be a critical look at the post war women and her visual representation within the art world, nonetheless going as far as using this painting as a link between the acceptances of pornography is too much. Personally, I have always been attracted to the Abstract Expressionist movement as it places emphasise on the importance of process and meaning rather than need for realistic depiction. Similar to realistic imagery this movement still addresses political and social topics. This allowed for the viewer to enjoy colour and line and gestural marks. De Kooning is in fact one of the pioneers in this type of thick gestural abstractions with his use of a unique colour palette and method of application. The debate over the beauty of the woman seems irrelevant.

Add Comments

We think Smarthistory works best when it prompts discussion. Please post (on-topic) comments.*

*All comments are moderated

To post a comment, you need the Adobe Flash Plugin. Download it from here.

Where and When

Willem de Kooning
New York City, USA
1950-52

Check this out as well

The Art Story project on
de Kooning
This work is an open educational resource and This work is licensed under a Creative Common Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 license.